LOCAL CONTENT CRISIS DEEPENS AT SABC AS RFPS NOT RELEASED
Independent Producers this week expressed concern at the fact that commissioning briefs (RFP’s) for the industry, due to be released on May 31st, have not been issued.
Historically the SABC issued Request for Proposals (RFPs) twice a year for new cycles of programming. This is the way SABC procures local content. There have been no RFPs issued since September 2008, of which half were cancelled when the financial crisis hit in April 2009. The estimated annual value of local programming is R1-billion.
Local content is the most popular content on SABC, generating substantial revenue. Not issuing RFPs will result in few or no new programmes on air in the future.
The TVIEC is concerned that not releasing these crucial RFPs will deepen the local content crisis at the broadcaster – and further cripple the local television industry.
Without new programming, the broadcaster has come to rely on a strategy of repeats. This has led to a significant loss in audience share and has battered the independent production sector. Over 35 000 jobs have been lost and dozens of companies have closed their doors.
Acutely aware of the consequences on the industry, the SABC Interim Board obtained government guaranteed loans, in part to ensure that the commissioning of new programming could resume. They informed the independent production sector that this would be in January 2010. This did not happen.
In March this year, at a meeting with the industry, the newly-appointed SABC Board acknowledged the damage caused to the industry by the delay in commissioning and made a commitment that the SABC would release new RFPs no later than 31 May 2010. This has again not happened as the Board has failed to approve the expenditure required for a new set of RFPs.
The TVIEC has no option but to assume that the requisite approval did not occur because of the internal problems that have once again beset the board and management at the SABC.
The industry has offered the Board new strategies and proposals for local content partnerships with the SABC. Industry bodies, supported by bodies such as the National Film and Video Foundation and IDC, have repeatedly put proposals on the table for revised funding models, including working with government monetary incentives for the creation of new local content and where a new approach to the sharing of intellectual property can unlock new programming and funding support for the SABC.
The TVIEC would like some answers from the SABC. What budget does the public broadcaster have available for new local content? When will the promised RFPs be released? What is the SABC doing about its ICASA-regulated mandate to fulfil local content obligations?
Without answers to these questions we see no way forward but to once again mobilise our industry and take to the streets to make our voices heard.
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This press release is written on behalf of the TVIEC (Television Industry Emergency Coalition) which consists of:
CWU (Creative Workers Union) and SASFED (South African Screen Federation) who represent as industry federation: DFA (The Documentary Filmmakers Association) / IPO (The Independent Producers Organisation) / OSCA SA (The Official South African Casting Association) / PMA (The Personal Managers' Association) / SAGA (South African Guild of Actors) / SAGE (South African Guild of Editors) / WGSA (Writers Guild of South Africa) / WIFTSA (Women in Film and Television SA) / WOS (Women of the Sun)