The SABC has canned the respected environmental series 50/50,
apparently for financial reasons — although critics also claimed the
broadcaster has a political motive, writes Yolandi Groenewald in the Mail & Guardian.

Executive producer Johan Botha confirmed this week that the programme had been informed in a letter that it would be taken off air until April next year because of the broadcaster's financial woes.

The SABC has tried to can the programme twice before, but it won reprieve after a public outcry.

Some critics have suggested that the postponement is an attempt by the public broadcaster to get rid of the programme without cancelling it outright.

"Postponing the programme until April might be its death knell," Botha said. "We all have bills to pay. Most of the crew can't afford to wait around until April and will have to find other jobs, where they'll have to sign at least yearly contracts. They won't be available come April."

Launched 25 years ago, 50/50 is the world's longest-running environmental series and the SABC's longest-running feature.

Viewers have started an online petition on, which carried more than 8 000 signatures on Thursday afternoon.

A Facebook group has also been and started with almost 800 members.

Water scientist Anthony Turnton, fired by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research after his remarks about South Africa's water crisis, said he believed the programme has been canned because it has been too critical of the government. Turnton's own criticisms of government have been aired extensively on the show.

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