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.

06 November 2009


Johannesburg, 6 NOVEMBER 2008

The Hunger Protest called a pause to its campaign yesterday when renowned actor Sello Maake ka Ncube completed his promised 30 days without food by drinking diluted marula juice – a departure from the apple juice drunk as break-fast by all the previous protestors from the Hunger Coalition.

This rolling action began three months ago when filmmaker Michael Lee stopped eating to protest the SABC's lack of tranparency in its threatened local content cuts. He went 30 days without food before acceding to SASFED's request that he stop. At that point he handed over to several other media players who had already joined the protest: consultants Gwen Britz and Ingi Brough, young film industry entries Thabiso Mafane and Zamambo Tshabalala, and AFDA students Aluta Mlisana and Keitumetse Qhali. Only Tshabalala made her stated goal of 30 days - the rest having to stop short for medical and family reasons. When she finished, Sello took over.

Sello's month long fast was marked by extremely controversial statements about the state of culture in today's South Africa. Early in his fast he said that “in a twisted way” black culture was more supported under Apartheid than now, and that apparently ignited debates all the way up to the presidency.

"I received a call two weeks ago from the Department of Arts and Culture, who wanted to talk to me about my statements,” Sello said. “I'm still looking forward to that conversation.”

In his third week, Sello travelled on a three day trip to the Phillipines to do a live commercial for the South African government. “You have to drink twice as much water on the plane,” he said. “So you can imagine how many litres I was drinking by then.”

While both Lee and Zama drank their juice at press conferences at Atlas Studios, Sello drank his in the relatively sedate surroundings of the green room at the e-TV soapie Scandal!, where he was working a full day of scenes. On that show, Sello plays the lead character of Daniel Nyathi.

"About the end of my second week, the producers actually asked me to stop, because they were worried I was losing too much weight and it would show. But when I got back from Manila, they decided I was looking so good, they were glad I had done this.”

Like the protestors before him, Sello has experienced a personal as well as physical transformation. “I've not felt better in years. I am in tune with my body. I feel calm and clear. I have a new relationship with food. I understand now food is a privilege, and it can become an addiction. I understand now what people mean when they say there's actually enough food for everybody.”

Asked if he was disappointed that the coalition's basic demand – that the SABC open up its business operating plans to public scrutiny – has not been met, Sello smiled and said, “We're still watching. The protest is not over. For the moment let's call it a strategic retreat.”

SABC, independent producers discuss new pay plan



PUBLISHED: 2009/11/06 06:26:23 AM

AN URGENT meeting was held this week between the SABC interim board and frustrated independent television producers to discuss a new plan to pay producers. This comes after the broadcaster, which owes them R60m, failed to meet its first payment agreements in September.

It was agreed at the meeting on Wednesday that R10,8m would be ring-fenced and used to pay producers owed under R200000, who were hardest hit as they tended to be the smaller companies. The series Generations is among the larger shows that have not been paid.

Desirée Markgraaff, spokeswoman for the Television Industry Emergency Coalition (TVIEC), confirmed that the agreed amount had not been paid in September.

It is estimated that the SABC owes producers R22m in “old debts”, some of which go back more than two years .

The broadcaster tends to pay shows in production in tranches.

A letter in Business Day’s possession written on Tuesday by the TVIEC to the board said efforts to obtain answers from SABC management had been unsuccessful, with delays being attributed to technical glitches in the system or lack of funds.

The letter says: “This morning we were informed that one production company has now been forced to auction its premises and another is closing its doors with close to R500000 outstanding from SABC.”

Markgraaff said the loss of the smaller companies did not just affect those immediately employed there but the additional labour employed to work on the programmes.

SABC interim board head Irene Charnley was not available for comment yesterday, but she has allegedly warned that disciplinary action would be taken if producers identified on the list were not paid by next Friday.


5 November 2009


The Television Industry Emergency Coalition has some serious reservations about the new Public Service Broadcast Bill proposed by the Ministry of Communications.

While we appreciate that the Minister is rushing the promulgation of a new bill in order to expedite funding to the SABC, we would like to restate our position that the crisis at the SABC is as much a management crisis as a financial crisis.

Even though the independent production sector has borne the brunt of the crisis, is still owed millions of rands by the SABC and is buckling under the effects of a cut-back in commissioning of local content, we strongly believed that changing the financial funding model without reviewing the operations and management of the organization is akin to throwing good money after bad.
We believe that the present crisis should be separated from the long term issues of funding public broadcasting. The SABC is not going to trade itself out of its present financial difficulties and needs a bail-out regardless of what happens with public broadcasting funding in the long-term.
Moreover, any financial model will fail without competent leadership.

In addition, the Bill suggests adding further institutions into the broadcasting environment either as oversight bodies or as funding bodies.

The TVIEC believes that organizations such as ICASA should be strengthened rather than undermined. Like the SABC, they need inspired and competent leadership and sufficient resources to do their work. Merely adding more organizations will not provide the necessary leadership that is needed.

“What we have witnessed is a serious lack of professional skills and the required leadership abilities that allow independent public institutions to be sufficiently effective,” says a TVIEC spokesperson.

In addition, the TVIEC is extremely concerned about the loss of autonomy for the public broadcaster suggested by the bill and is confused what it means to be serving a developmental state, rather than the Constitution.

We urge the Minster to heed calls to institute a White Paper process so that the changes mooted in the Bill can be debated and thought through properly. To rush through the changes without meaningful participation from the public and broadcast industry stakeholders will be disastrous.

Charl: 082-6813680

This press release 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).

05 November 2009

Clear and present danger of return to state broadcasting

Published: 2009/11/03 06:31:18 AM in BUSINESS DAY

THE Public Service Broadcasting Bill, just published by the Ministry of Communications, contains the good, the bad, the ugly and the unspeakably ugly.

Initial reports have focused on the end of the TV licence system, but the bill contains much more fundamental changes to our broadcasting environment. If it is adopted in its current form, we will be stepping back from public broadcasting and towards a return to the state broadcasting we had under apartheid.

It is a scrappy piece of legislation that shows the signs of hurried drafting and a rush to Parliament. No doubt the new Communications Minister, former defence force chief Siphiwe Nyanda, wants to show he can bring his military precision to the job and probably also wants to take advantage of the current SABC crisis. He has bypassed the traditional “white paper to green paper to legislation” route, and cut corners to get it in place within a few months of getting into office. But undue haste could have serious consequences.

The legislation gives the minister much more power over broadcasting than he has had before, and creates a whole raft of new statutory bodies to complicate the broadcasting sector. Its main features are:

* The end of the licensing system and the introduction of a special tax to pay for public broadcasting. This is not a bad idea. The licence system was not working and a special tax is at least our money, rather than a departmental grant. If it is our money, we can demand that the broadcasting serves the public; if it comes from the department, it can be used to manipulate the public broadcaster. Making it a tax also takes us away from the regressive format of the licensing model, where everybody pays the same, and creates a fee linked to one’s income.

But it is not at all clear that the National Treasury would allow a special tax, having resisted all such forms of taxation for many years. What might be a compromise would be to keep it as a licence fee, and just allow the South African Revenue Service to collect it more efficiently than the SABC.

* The introduction of a Public Broadcasting Fund. This is potentially a good idea, as it is preferable to direct government funding of the SABC and will allow other broadcasters and producers to access the fund, and do public service work as well. However, there are not enough details to know if this fund will be independent of political influence, how it will divide up its money , or how it will handle such a large sum of money for so many different things. The fund is intended to cover everything from public broadcasting and programme creation to signal distributor Sentech and a new Museum of Broadcasting and Signal Distribution created in the bill.

* The creation of three new boards: a Local Content Advisory Board (to advise the minister on how to develop local content), a Public Service Broadcasting Advisory Board (to advise the minister on public service broadcasting), and a panel to evaluate the performance of the SABC board (set up with Parliament to measure board members against performance criteria).

All these appear to undermine the roles of existing bodies, such as communications regular the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) and the parliamentary communications committee. The big difference is these new bodies will be appointed by the minister. Rather than take on the existing independent bodies, Nyanda wants to introduce a whole new level of bodies that answer directly to him and which seem not to have clear public accountability.

* New channels: the bill bizarrely obligates the SABC to apply within 12 months for licences for extra channels to deal with education, health, youth, sports, parliamentary services and “government and interactive services”. Since the SABC has not coped with its current load, and there has been no funding for the extra two regional channels created in earlier legislation, it seems that this is just wishful thinking. However, by creating new channels in this way, Nyanda is circumventing both Icasa, whose job it is to allocate licences, and the SABC itself, which should be deciding what needs to be on its channels and what is viable.

There is also an argument to be had about whether it is either healthy or desirable for the gargantuan SABC to get even bigger.

* The bill reaffirms the hope in earlier legislation that the SABC’s commercial channels will cross-subsidise its public service channels, and ignores the fact that this model has been a clear failure. At the moment, the subsidisation is actually working the other way, since public service channel SABC1 makes enough money to subsidise the loss- making commercial channel, SABC3. This needs to be fixed, rather than perpetuated.

* The bill creates a new international division in the SABC to absorb Channel Africa and promote international broadcasting. But it does it in a way that undermines the SABC’s independence, by saying that this division will promote the country’s foreign policy. Note that it is not the national interest that the SABC would be obliged to promote, but the current government’s policies.

* Nyanda is given extraordinary powers: he can make regulations on any matter connected to public service broadcasting; he may direct any of the bodies mentioned in the bill (including the SABC board and Icasa) to take any action if they are unable to perform their functions or are mismanaged. This gives him unprecedented powers to interfere at all sorts of levels.

* Community media must now be run “in partnership with municipalities”. It is not clear what this means, but it definitely threatens the independence of these broadcasters. In many smaller towns, one would expect community media to give voice to those who are taking on their local authorities for their poor service delivery, and this is unlikely to happen if they are forcibly linked to municipalities.

There are a number of other aspects of the bill that I can only believe are simple errors. It says community stations will in future have to comply with the Public Finance Management Act, a requirement that would close down this sector within weeks. That could not have been Nyanda’s intention.

Underlying all these changes is the explicit notion that public broadcasting must “align to the development goals of the republic”.

The problem is that it is never explicit what this means. Previous state attempts to align public broadcasting with developmental goals — such as in many newly independent African countries in the 1960s — proved disastrous, as it reduced the media to purveyors of sunshine journalism. There is nothing wrong with public broadcasters covering or even promoting development, but if you impose it from the top, force partnerships with local government, undermine the independent regulator and give the minister powers to interfere, then it is time to worry.

Nyanda has allowed only a month for discussion of this bill. Let’s hope it is a month of intense debate.

* Harber is Caxton Professor of Journalism at Wits University.

‘The legislation gives the minister much more power over broadcasting than he has had before’

03 November 2009

Documentary Month at Alliance Francaise du Cap

The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival is delighted to be taking part in the documentary month of the Alliance Française du Cap, which will take place in November.  
Encounters and the Alliance Française du Cap have joined forces to present regular documentary screenings.  
The screening details are: 

Canada 2007 90min 
Dir: Rob Stewart 

Cry ‘Shark!’ and people panic. The West label them prehistoric killers, the Orient craves only their fins. Though neither killer nor cure, sharks are key in the ocean’s food chain, the keepers of the balance and health of the sea. Reviled and desired, sharks of the world are being decimated – and seemingly no-one cares. Rob Stewart does, he’s been swimming with, and photographing, them most of his life. He studies their complex nature. Then he witnesses Guatemalan pirates butcher a school of hammerheads in the Galapagos Reserve, and he’s off with swashbuckling Paul Watson and the crew of the Sea Shepherd on a very dangerous mission that uncovers Taiwanese/Costa Rican corruption and illegal shark fin industry whose unchecked slaughter has wiped out around 90% of sharks on the planet. And now? Panic and cry for the sharks. 


JURY AWARD 2006- Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival

BEST HD FEATURE 2006- AFI Dallas International Film Festival

AUDIENCE AWARD 2006-Atlantic Film Festival

AUDIENCE AWARD 2007 –Encounters Int. South African Documentary Film Festival

AUDIENCE AWARD 2008-Durban International Film Festival

BEST ENVOROMENTAL FILM of 2008 - National Ocean Film Festival Alliance

CRITICS CHOICE AWARD 2008-Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards 

Tuesday, 3rd November 2009

@ Alliance Française

155 Loop Street, Cape Town

7pm / R 20.00 
Encounters DVD’s will be on sale after the screening. Cash bar available.  

For further queries please contact:

Refiloe Khobane


Tel: (021) 465 4686 

Controversial Public Services Broadcasting Bill - SOS Initial Content

The following article from Business Day on the new and highly controversial Public Services Broadcasting Bill - which was launched to an SOS Round-Table on Thursday for comment. SASFED was present and worked with SOS on quickly reviewing the bill which plan to completely replace the Broadcasting Act of 1999.

Original story can be found at:

The News By Nyanda?

Published 2009/10/31 08:30:54 AM

TAXPAYERS should contribute at least 1% of their personal income tax to fund the development of broadcasting, the new Public Service Broadcasting Bill proposes.

The bill, published this week for comment, also scraps television licence fees, gives substantial power to the communications minister over the SABC board and “any entity identified in the act” if it’s believed they are unable to perform their functions .

The draft legislation, which controversially went directly from a discussion document to a bill, is being presented as an amendment to the present Broadcasting Act of 1999. But Kate Skinner, spokeswoman of the Save Our SABC Coalition, says it is “a complete repeal of the Broadcasting Act”.

Members of the coalition— among others the Freedom of Expression Institute, Media Monitoring Africa, unions in the broadcasting sector and academics — met in Johannesburg on Friday to discuss the bill.

Skinner says they decided to appeal to Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda for more time to make submissions. The department has asked for public comment by December 7.

“The bill is a major shift from the previous legislation,” she says. “It is not an amendment but a complete repeal of the existing legislation and outlines what they want the broadcast environment to be. The inclusion of a broadcast fund is a brand new idea.”

Nyanda described the bill in his b udget s peech in June as “a new vision and mandate for public broadcasting services in line with SA’s developmental agenda”.