SABC’s axing of multicultural 7de Laan damaging to democracy.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SOS Coalition says the South African public broadcaster’s axing of the multicultural soap 7de Laan on SABC2 is bad for democracy and that the SABC’s inability to pay local productions is a very big problem.

The SABC that is deep in the red financially and made another annual loss of R1.1 billion for the 2022/2023 financial year is struggling and juggling the payment of all its biggest shows, known as the “Big Five” – Uzalo, Generations, Skeem Saam, Muvhango and 7de Laan – with 7de Laan that got axed in July after the broadcaster can no longer afford to keep it on the air.
Last week Monday, Danie Odendaal Productions abruptly shut down filming of the show at Sasani Studios on the outstanding 45 episodes still to be delivered to the SABC over the broadcaster’s failure to pay the producers which are owed millions of rand.
The final 7de Laan episode will be broadcast on SABC2 on 26 December but if the production loses more days before 24 October the show will have to end sooner due to fewer episodes.

“As the SOS Coalition we are deeply concerned that the financial crisis at the SABC is unfortunately affecting the production of local content,” says Uyanda Siyotula, SOS Coalition coordinator.

“The grim state of the public broadcaster’s finances has been made apparent by reports of the immediate shutdown of production on one of South Africa’s longest-running television programmes, 7de Laan.”

“Even though it has been reported that following partial payment by the SABC, Danie Odendaal Productions will resume production of 7de Laan until the final season is concluded in December as intended – the financial crisis remains worrisome.”

“Media reports also revealed that the SABC is struggling to pay producers of some of their popular shows,” Siyotula says.

“As the SOS Coalition, we are concerned about the impact this financial crisis will have on the local production sector. When the SABC cuts down on local content production, the detriments are not only limited to local producers but the creative industry at large, including actors and writers.”

“Further, cutting down on programmes such as 7de Laan that kept citizens entertained by playing a critical role in promoting cultural diversity and fostering social cohesion, is a threat to our democracy.”

The SOS Coalition says that “we have recently also witnessed how these financial constraints affected securing of the 2023 Rugby World Cup broadcasting rights.”

“The SABC board must communicate with the public its plan to pull the SABC out of the financial crisis it finds itself in. There must be transparency and accountability from the SABC along with a way forward.”

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