A coalition of television workers plans to protest against the public
broadcaster’s nonpayment of millions of rands to independent producers
which, it claims, has led to retrenchments throughout the industry, writes Fienie Grobler in Business Day.

The Television Industry Emergency Coalition (TVIEC), which claims to represent more than 80% of local content on air, said the protest would take place next Thursday.

“The protest has been provoked by the public broadcaster’s nonpayment of millions of rands to independent producers and the subsequent retrenchments that are occurring throughout the industry,” the coalition said yesterday.

Production companies, industry organisations, unions, friends of the industry, soapie stars, actors and technicians were expected to take part in the action.

The coalition said the protest, scheduled to take place in Johannesburg and Cape Town, had not only been sparked by anger over nonpayment, but also by “much deeper and more significant issues”.

These included “unfair terms of trade, unsustainable business relationships with the content creators, unfair rights ownership and a deep arrogance manifested in the heavy- handed management style the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) displays”.

The coalition said it had held several meetings with the SABC in past months, but had not received any “credible feedback”.

“Crews and cast are without work, production companies are facing closure and viewers are being cheated of quality programming.

“Estimates of up to R58m owed have been made, but it is not possible to confirm this amount as the SABC has been unwilling to reveal the extent of the debt,” said the TVIEC.

The SABC is facing a R784m deficit this year.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.