SABC says goodbye to Generations... for now

2014-09-19 18:47

Cape Town – The SABC has been forced to shelf the public broadcaster’s biggest revenue earner, admitting that Generations will disappear from the SABC1 schedule from October, calling it part of a “minor schedule change”.

This follows the strike of the principal cast last month who were promptly fired by Mfundi Vundla and MMSV Productions with the permission of the SABC.

It follows months of unhappiness behind the scenes for the actors after the SABC’s controversial and famously matricless chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng in June 2013 promised the cast three year contracts. The actors banded together and demanded the promised contracts, better pay rates and better working conditions and were fired.

The Generations Actors Guild (GAG) as the actors organised themselves, told News24 late Friday afternoon that they have now filed papers with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration for re-instatement.

“We’ve been clear that we are open to negotiation and discussions – but were resolute in our commitment to transforming unfair industry practices”. GAG says no negotiations or meetings with the SABC have taken place.

The TV industry remains in shock, closely following the nasty and high-profile real-life soap opera playing out publicly and which has kept the local showbiz tongues wagging.

An incredulous TV industry still can’t believe that SABC management has been unable to salvage the situation and keep its number one flagship programme.

The SABC will no longer be able to guarantee the average of eight million viewers tuning in on weeknights at 20:00, and will, therefore, no longer be able to command the impressive R220 000 spot price per 30 second ad break during the show – the highest ad rate on any of the SABC’s TV channels.

Viewership surging

Meanwhile, Cosatu’s pleas for viewers to boycott the show this week has fallen on deaf ears. Viewership since Monday surged by an average of 200 000 viewers more than before the SABC’s Generations scandal started and the production of daily episodes imploded.

Viewers are desperate to catch the last remaining episodes and late on Friday the SABC confirmed that Generations is disappearing from the SABC1 schedule from October for months – the biggest single programming disruption to the SABC Television schedule since television started in 1976, given the duration and the sizeable audience affected.

South African TV soaps film episodes around a month in advance, and Generations is fast running out of the last existing episodes. The last remaining episodes will be shown the next week and a half and is set to end abruptly with several unresolved cliff-hangers.

The SABC calls it “minor changes” and says Generations “will be revamped” after the 16 actors “were terminated by MMSV Productions”.

“From Wednesday 1 October Generations will be off screen until December as new episodes are filmed,” says the SABC. The third season of Skeem Saam will now be broadcast at 20:00 from October. Generations will no longer be repeated on SABC3.

Instead, Muvhango will be repeated daily on SABC2, and Muvhango will then also repeat on SABC3 in the Generations timeslot from October.

The SABC says it “would like to appeal to the public to be patient as we deal with the challenges currently faced in ensuring the longevity of Generations”.

Other changes

Interestingly the SABC is also returning the Afrikaans TV news from SABC3 back to SABC2 from 3 November after the broadcaster shunted the bulk of its Afrikaans programming from July from SABC2 to SABC3 which has a much smaller broadcasting footprint in a highly controversial move, which caused a public outcry.

The SABC says the Afrikaans news will be back at 19:00 on SABC2 from 3 November.

The SABC says the “shifting of news programming is a result of the SABC listening to its audience’s feedback”.

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