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Fol­low­ing an apol­ogy by the pro­duc­ers of SABC1’s soapie, Gen­er­a­tions: The Le­gacy to view­ers who had com­plained about the in­clu­sion of hot sex scenes on the show last week, many are ask­ing whether sex on TV re­ally sells.

The soapie, which airs on week­days at 8pm, was hauled be­fore the Broad­cast­ing Com­plaints Com­mis­sion of SA (BCCSA), which found that it broke its code of con­duct. Last week, the SABC was forced to scrap the week’s episodes on its Satur­day om­nibus be­cause of the com­plaints.

Gen­er­a­tions’ spokesper­son Gaaratwe Mokhethi said: “We deeply apol­o­gise. Our main man­date is to truth­fully tell sto­ries that mir­ror our so­ci­ety, and in do­ing that, our plan go­ing for­ward is to pay more con­sid­er­a­tion to our view­ers’ feed­back as their feed­back is very im­por­tant to us.”

Many have asked whether what used to be the coun­try’s most watched soap is des­per­ate to re­claim view­ers in a rat­ings war.

SABC1’s isiZulu soapie, Uzalo, has oc­cu­pied the num­ber one spot for more than a year, at­tract­ing 8.6 mil­lion view­ers, beat­ing Gen­er­a­tions: The Le­gacy into second place with 8.3 mil­lion.

How­ever, Mokhethi in­sists that the scenes had noth­ing to do with any bid for bet­ter rat­ings and were sim­ply part of the story line. “The soap world is known for telling sto­ries filled with pas­sion, but in telling those sto­ries we don’t want our view­ers to feel any sort of dis­com­fort.”

How­ever, another pop­u­lar soapie, SABC2’s Mu­vhango, has been on air for more than 20 years with not even a kiss in sight.

Mu­vhango pro­ducer Duma Ka Ndlovu told City Press that when he cre­ated the show, “we wanted to come up with a drama se­ries that Africans would re­late to and be proud of”.

“Most Africans are still un­com­fort­able to watch sex or kissing scenes with their chil­dren on tele­vi­sion,” he added.

“Mu­vhango does not fea­ture smok­ing, drink­ing [al­co­hol], vi­o­lence, kissing or sex scenes. Th­ese are not in our DNA. Our aim was to create a drama that would in­spire young peo­ple to lead a clean life. We also wanted to create role mod­els for good, clean liv­ing. It is still so 20 years down the line.”

Ndlovu, how­ever, was quick to point out that he would not judge other dra­mas’ scripts. “I can­not dic­tate to other soapies what kinds of scenes to show as they have their own DNA.” So, does sex sell? Me­dia ac­tivist Kate Skin­ner says it does, but it de­pends on whether the pro­gramme is ap­pro­pri­ate for its time slot.

Broad­cast pol­icy ex­pert Dudu Makuse feels that it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of par­ents and broad­cast­ers to en­sure that chil­dren do not have ac­cess to pornog­ra­phy or nu­dity.

“Gen­er­a­tions should have put a warn­ing dis­claimer be­fore they showed sex scenes, and they should have been more re­spon­si­ble and warned the view­ers dur­ing prime time,” she said. “Artists are sup­posed to be con­tro­ver­sial ... but it should be done re­spon­si­bly, with­out lim­it­ing pro­duc­ers’ and writ­ers’ creativ­ity.”

TV critic and writer Thi­nus Fer­reira said: “At 8pm a large num­ber of kids are still watch­ing TV. I have watched the Gen­er­a­tions episodes and think they went too far. Par­ents and grand­par­ents are watch­ing with their chil­dren. “The story line isn’t wrong, but the level at which the vi­su­als go to is pushed too far. A woman show­ing up at a guy’s door in her black un­der­wear is not re­ally ap­pro­pri­ate for a pub­lic broad­caster.”

RAUNCHY Scenes such as this one on Gen­er­a­tions up­set some view­ers

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