Emergency SABC board meeting after fire

2012-06-14 15:14
Thinus Ferreira
Cape Town – The SABC has just held an emergency board meeting after fire raged through South Africa's public broadcaster late on Wednesday.

The blaze took SABC3 off the air for a while, gutted Studio 6 in the Henley Studios complex, and completely destroyed the Isidingo set, causing tens of millions of rands worth of damage.

The SABC was in shock on Thursday after the blaze which took firefighters, some of whom were overcome with smoke inhalation, more than three hours to get under control.

The fire started just after 20:00 and the SABC's internal fire control and extinguishing system couldn't put it out.

The SABC's acting chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who was on the scene of the blaze, said "this is something we don't know how to handle, but I think we will get there."

The SABC board wanted to assess the impact of the damage caused by the fire that broke out in the Henley television production studios.

'Possible disruption'

In a statement the SABC says the board has "deep concern about the safety of all personnel and the possible disruption of scheduled programming on television".

Sully Motsweni, the SABC's group executive for risk and governance, briefed the SABC board about the fire which was the largest the SABC has ever experienced at its Auckland Park headquarters.

She told the SABC board about the destruction of the fire and the contingency measures the SABC has put in place.

The SABC has offered trauma counselling to staff near the site at the time.

"In terms of production agreements we have with the producers, we have six weeks of material in advance, which should give us ample time to find alternative studios to produce forthcoming episodes of our popular soap, Isidingo," said the SABC.

"The other soaps, Muvhango and Generations, will not be affected, but production staff will not be able to enter the studios until the relevant authorities have declared the area safe. The cause of the fire is currently being investigated."

Motsweni is heading the SABC's internal inquiry, while authorities are also investigating. She is also in charge of the contingency plans that need to be put in place so that television production at the SABC can continue.

The SABC says the broadcaster wants to assure "our advertisers, viewers and listeners that our operations have not been affected. Our programmes and adverts will go on-air as scheduled".

Meanwhile Endemol South Africa, the production company of SABC3's biggest local production, has made no comment and SABC3 has also made no statement to viewers since Wednesday's fire.