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The SABC is set to lose more than R140 mil­lion after putting its big­gest soapie, Gen­er­a­tions, on ice for two months. In­dus­try in­sid­ers have told City Press that the pub­lic broad­caster sells a 30-sec­ond ad­ver­tis­ing spot dur­ing the highly cov­eted 8pm week­day slot for R230 000.

The higher a show’s au­di­ence rat­ings, the more the broad­caster is able to charge for ads.

Two in­sid­ers, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, said that typ­i­cally a 30-minute soapie like Gen­er­a­tions would shoot for 22 min­utes – leav­ing eight min­utes to sell to ad­ver­tis­ers.

In those eight min­utes, up to 16 ad­verts can be aired. That means Gen­er­a­tions was, at its peak, earn­ing the SABC close to R4 mil­lion an episode, about R18 mil­lion a week and R74 mil­lion a month – ex­clud­ing re­peats and the Satur­day om­nibus.

SABC spokesper­son Kaizer Kganyago said it’s not a sim­ple math­e­mat­i­cal cal­cu­la­tion.

“We spoke to the ad­ver­tis­ers long be­fore we made the changes so that they could make up their own mind. They un­der­stood when we told them that we had no choice but to change the pro­gramme be­cause we did not have 16 ac­tors.

What you need to un­der­stand is that some of th­ese spots have been booked a long time in ad­vance, so an ad­ver­tiser won’t just take their money and go else­where for two months,” he said.

In the seven weeks since the ac­tors’ drama be­gan, the soapie’s weekly view­er­ship has fluc­tu­ated be­tween 8 mil­lion and 10 mil­lion an episode.

City Press has stud­ied viewer rat­ing statis­tics sup­plied by the SA Au­di­ence Re­search Foun­da­tion, which shows that view­er­ship has ebbed and flowed since a strike by 16 of the show’s key ac­tors and their sub­se­quent sack­ing was an­nounced in the mid­dle of Au­gust.

The av­er­age for the fol­low­ing two weeks was about 8 mil­lion view­ers a night – and then Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi’s call for a boy­cott of the show back­fired.

On Septem­ber 9, Vavi called on South Africans to turn off their TVs from Septem­ber 15 to support the ac­tors’ fight to get their jobs back.

“The cam­paign has to be taken to a new level,” he said ahead of the planned “switch off”.

In­stead, an av­er­age of 10 mil­lion peo­ple a night Di­neo dies while be­ing held hostage. Ruby avenges Di­neo by poi­son­ing MJ and dump­ing his body in Senzo’s room.

Then Ruby and Pa­trick move to KZN and open a she­been.

Sibu­siso sends his hench­men to kill Ja­son. Mawande, who has been sick, dies. A griev­ing No­luthu elopes with Sam­roa and they set­tle in Aus­tralia.

At Mawande’s fu­neral, or­gan­ised by Sibu­siso, Priska gets drunk, falls from a bal­cony and dies. Queen, learn­ing that Prince and Lebo eloped, has a stroke and dies. Zodwa’s an­ces­tors kill Nic. Khetiwe is spot­ted at the bar at Mawande’s fu­neral and the so­cial worker takes her son away from her.

Khetiwe and Senzo snort co­caine to­gether. They die.

Sibu­siso re­cruits Choppa to kill Ken­neth. Choppa gets killed, so Sibu­siso jumps in, kills Ken­neth and is badly in­jured.

– Ac­tivist Pearl Pil­lay

TALK TO US: SMS us at 34263 us­ing the key­word

END and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name. SMSes cost R1.50 THE RE­LUC­TANT FAN Ruby stabs Ken­neth for trick­ing her and Pa­trick, and mak­ing her child Di­neo suf­fer.

Just as Ken­neth bleeds to death, Di­neo walks in and hugs her mum, takes the knife and stabs Ken­neth again.

Later we find it was Sibu­siso who helped res­cue Di­neo from Sello and killed the one-eyed freak.

Priska praises her hus­band for be­ing so brave, but then Mawande walks in, apol­o­gises to Sibu­siso for doubt­ing him and says she’ll never stop loving him.

They kiss. Priska pulls Mawande away, starts beat­ing her and a Xhosa cat­fight en­sues.

Mawande then has a heart at­tack and dies.

In another scene, Zodwa finds out that Nic and Akhona are back with baby Nicki. She shoots them dead and takes the baby back to KZN.

Zodwa is my favourite so she can’t die.

– News ed­i­tor Yanga Soji

How did you want Gen­er­a­tions to end?

tuned in that week. The num­bers were the high­est since the strike be­gan.

The fig­ures for the show’s fi­nal episode, on the night of Septem­ber 30, haven’t been re­leased yet.

Now all eyes turn to the soapie’s tem­po­rary re­place­ment, Skeem Saam. In the week be­fore it shifted into Gen­er­a­tions’ time slot, Skeem Saam was at­tract­ing about 4.9 mil­lion view­ers a night at 6.30pm on week­days. THE JOUR­NAL­IST Gen­er­a­tions pro­duc­ers are big fans of script­ing their show to align with cur­rent af­fairs, so us­ing the Ebola virus would have been a per­fect way to end the show.

One of the prin­ci­pal char­ac­ters – prefer­ably a vil­lain like Ken­neth Mashaba – could con­tract the virus dur­ing one of his trav­els.

Any­one who has di­rect con­tact with Ken­neth would con­tract the virus (this would in­clude the 15 dis­missed ac­tors).

For­tu­nately, a doc­tor recog­nises Ken­neth’s symp­toms and or­ders ev­ery­one he’s been in con­tact with to be quar­an­tined.

This end­ing would al­low for a great cliffhanger and would leave room for the 16 ac­tors to be writ­ten back into the story line if they get their jobs back.

The Ebola story line can also act as a PSA about how peo­ple con­tract the virus, its symp­toms and how to avoid con­tract­ing it.

– Free­lancer Mok­gadi Se­abi

One in­dus­try in­sider said the SABC was fran­ti­cally mak­ing con­tin­gency plans to soften the pre­dicted fi­nan­cial blow.

The broad­caster, the in­sider said, is re­port­edly of­fer­ing sub­sti­tu­tion pack­ages to ad­ver­tis­ers who may be con­cerned about los­ing view­ers.

But Kganyago said that the ad­ver­tis­ers were not buy­ing Gen­er­a­tions, but the prime­time slot – no mat­ter what is play­ing.

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