The DFA was established in 2007 to promote and protect the interests of doc filmmakers in South Africa. To contact the DFA, please use the contact form: here . The DFA website is at: Membership applications can be made through the website here.

01 October 2009


Johannesburg, 1 Oct 2009

The hunger coalition announced this morning that production assistant Zamambo Tshabalala has now reached her 25th day without food as the latest step in the coalition’s rolling protest to call for an ethical public broadcaster.

“I'm amazed actually,” Tshabalala says. “I no longer want food. Now it's just a question of having enough strength. I have felt dizzy a few times in the mornings, but if I sleep enough, take a nap, whatever, I feel terrific.”

The coalition will be holding a press conference on the morning of Tuesday October 6 at 9 AM at Atlas Studios in Milpark. At this conference, Tshabalala will break her fast and answer questions about her experience. At the same time, the next protestor will be introduced who will take over from Tshabalala.

The protest started almost two months ago now, when director/producer Michael Lee, stopped eating as a way to demand transparency and partnership from the SABC and especially to highlight the threatened slashing of local content. He reached 30 days before resuming food amid pressure from family and colleagues.

Lee handed over to six other protestors. Five stopped short of their original vows of 21 days, including the student producer and director of a documentary about the protest. Meanwhile, Tshabalala has just kept going.

The coalition is encouraged that emerging talent such as Zama has shown such resolute determination to change the landscape at the SABC. Her determination is a shining example of the pool of emerging talent within South Africa who want their voices heard and acknowledged.
Tshabalala said “Most people close to me have said that taking a stand with my body, myself like this is ridiculous. They don't seem to understand what is at stake. Or what I've gotten from this experience – one thing I have learned is I am capable of far more than others think I am, or than even I think I am.”

Tshabalala points out that the crisis is only now starting to reach the average person's consciousness now that programs are being affected. The South African audience is staring to sit up and take notice.
“The last couple days on SABC1 and 2, the screen, a couple times, just went black, and stayed that way. Once on the news, it cut to another program for a few seconds, and then back. Now people are really starting to wonder what is going on there.”

Last week the Cape Argus reported that both current and previous employees of the SABC could face criminal charges and that some of these individuals would be suspended. On Tuesday this week, the Sowetan and other publications reported that three specific executives had in fact been suspended.

When asked if this move gives hope to the hunger protestors, Lee expressed ambivalence: “It's good to see action. But whether this leads to the values of transparency, accountability, respect, and humanity, being followed at the SABC as a national public broadcaster remains to be seen.”
Gwen Britz, a co-founder of the protest, is cautious. As a media placement specialist she is concerned that the imminent suspension of staff at the SABC was reported in the media prior to the suspensions being effected: "The reports being issued in the public domain, in advance, via the media, is concerning as it does not appear to follow due process required by the Labour Act”.

In Britz' view, supported by research she has done since the announcement, Disciplinary Codes and Grievance Procedures already in place at the SABC may well be violated by the way things have been done. If so, she says, "this could just lead to more golden handshakes rather than tangible results.”


A letter from the TVIEC - UPDATE


In this letter:

  • SABC Interim Board commits to paying producers
  • Payment updates and input from industry
  • TVIEC lobby to government: Request for information
  • TVIEC research and legal: Call for funding

Dear fellow industry professionals

Please take the time to respond to this mail and also to forward it to anyone you know in the industry (be they a large company or a single freelancer) who isn’t on our mailing list.
SABC Interim Board commits to paying money owed producers

On 23 September a group from the TVIEC steering committee met with members of the SABC Interim Board, including the chair, as well as senior SABC management and various financial managers at SABC.

The purpose of the meeting was to try and ensure that SABC sticks to its payment plan re money owed to producers. The TVIEC has worked tirelessly to try and secure these payments and our feeling was that the process was starting to fall apart.

The meeting was extremely clear: The board Chairperson wants all producers paid as soon as possible. Management was instructed to load all payments under R200 000. Category 1 (R50 000 and under) and most of Category 2 (R200 000 and under) are to be released at the end of September. The remainder of Category 2 is to be released at the end of October. The remaining debts are to be settled by the end of November.

In total we estimate that about R22-million will have to be paid out by SABC between end September and end November.

Payment updates and input from industry

All of those who are owed money need to please help us by letting us know whether or not you have been paid as per the above commitment. The TVIEC, IPO and SASFED have been burning the midnight oil on this issue and many of us are not owed money ourselves. Only you can tell us if SABC is honouring its commitment. Mail us at at the end of the relevant months.

TVIEC lobby to government: Continued request for information

The TVIEC is meeting with many stakeholders about the crisis our industry is battling. These include the Department of Trade and Industry and also the parliamentary portfolio committee. We have an opportunity to present to parliament our request for distress funding for the industry so that we can all get back to work. Our presentation needs to include comprehensive data on the state of the industry.

Thank you to all of you who provided information on how the SABC crisis has affected your business. Those of you who haven’t, please respond now. If you are a freelancer, please just respond to questions 5 and 6 below.

1. How many people would your company normally employ in a good year? Please try to use figures over the last three years. Please include in your answer:
a) The number of skilled artisans – crew, admin and cast
b) The remainder of your permanent and freelance employees. The broadest range of these, down to the last extra on your set and the last voice artist in your post-production facility. (Ie: If you had 300 extras in a drama, this counts as well as the person who takes care of the honeywagon – everyone counts. Every job makes a difference.)

2. How many people do you estimate will you employ in this year (Feb 2009 – Feb 2010)?

3. How many permanent staff do you normally employ?

4. How many permanent staff have you let go this year?

5. What percentage drop in turnover have you experienced this year?

6. If you are not contracted by SABC within the next 3 months, what are the consequences for your company?

Please mail your answers to:

TVIEC research and legal: Call for funding

The TVIEC is pursuing both legal advice as well as research into the broadcast industry. We are looking at options with regards pro bono action against the public broadcaster and we are researching the status of the broadcaster’s local content delivery. Thank you to all of you who have donated funds to this cause – but we continue to appeal for more funding. If each company affiliated to the TVIEC just donated R500, we would be able to meet our goals. If you can help, please mail


This letter is written on behalf of the TVIEC (Television Industry Emergency Coalition) which consists of: IPO (Independent Producers Organization), SASFED (South African Screen Federation), TPA (The Producers Alliance), DFA (Documentary Filmmakers Association), WGSA (Writers Guild of South Africa) as well as the CWU (Creative Workers Union).

28 September 2009

Auditor General's Report

Hello all

There has been enormous coverage of the Auditor General's report looking into the financial mismanagement of the the SABC. You can download a copy from the Auditor General's website here.

Over the last few days I have been attending the Cosatu Congress. Communications Workers Union have drafted an important special resolution on the SABC. They will be proposing this from the floor. Once they have finalised it I will send you a copy.

Finally, have had a very interesting discussion with Mashilo Boloka from the Department of Comms. He is saying that a new Public Service Broadcasting Bill will be coming out by the beginning / middle of October. However, it will have a limited remit. It will only be dealing with issues that don't require a policy change. (I still need to find out what these issues are.) Later on in the year the Department will then embark on a Green Paper / White Paper process re: new ICT policy. Will keep you updated on that.

Warm regards
Kate Skinner
Campaign Coordinator - Save our SABC
(082) 926-6404