Cape Town – Channel O (DStv 320) says it "welcomes the dialogues" around its Youth Day ad which is raising eyebrows for its pop culture take on an iconic and harrowing struggle era photo from 1976.
The M-Net supplied music channel on MultiChoice’s DStv satellite pay-TV platform tells Channel24 that the ad from the Black River FC ad agency – which has been described as "incredibly insensitive" and "disgusting" – was to focus on the recognition of the young people who championed democracy in South Africa almost four decades ago.
Black River FC took the iconic image taken by Sam Mzima of the still missing Mbuyisa Makhubo running through the streets of Soweto holding the body of the 13-year old Hector Pieterson alongside a traumatised 17-year old sister Antoinette Pieterson, and gave it a glossy black-and-white update.
Pieterson has now been replaced with a graduation gown and smiles in Nganga Dlanga new sanitised photo – a drastic departure from the haunting image which was seen around the world and came to represent the Soweto Uprising of 1976.
"Channel O has noted the diverse commentary regarding its recent Youth Day ad," says Nkateko Mabaso, the director of local interest channels at M-Net.
"The channel wishes to confirm that the ad was created to honour the unfailing courage and enormous sacrifice of the youth of 1976. Their actions have had a profound impact on our world today," says Mabaso.
"In light of this Channel O welcomes the dialogues that the ad has invoked because these conversations speak fundamentally to the principles of democracy that so many gave their lives for.
"Whilst the creative treatment of the advert many be subject to varying interpretations, resulting in criticism or compliments, its focus remains firmly on the recognition and respect of those young people who tirelessly, and at great personal cost, steadfastly championed our democracy," says Mabaso.
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