Sunday World - - Front Page - NG­WAKO MALATJI

STRIK­ING Gen­er­a­tions ac­tors have been or­dered to re­turn to work or be fired. The SABC has re­jected their de­mands to be paid Hol­ly­wood wages”. The ac­tors re­ceived an ul­ti­ma­tum from the SABC’s le­gal de­part­ment on Fri­day night to re­port for duty to­mor­row at 9am or con­sider their con­tracts ter­mi­nated with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

The let­ters were is­sued to the main ac­tors soon af­ter the cast is­sued a state­ment that they had em­barked on a strike be­cause the SABC re­jected their de­mands to be paid roy­al­ties and to fi­nalise their three-year con­tracts.

The SABC re­jected their de­mands for pay hikes, which it deemed astro­nom­i­cal push­ing up wages of long-serv­ing ac­tors from R16 000 to R30 000 a week.

Two in­de­pen­dent sources, a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive and a crew mem­ber, said the SABC took a de­ci­sion on Fri­day night to take a hard­line stance be­cause it found the ac­tors’ de­mands un­rea­son­able and out of touch with re­al­ity”.

That means these ac­tors will earn a monthly salary of R120 000, which is equal to R1.4-mil­lion a year per cast mem­ber. This is not Hol­ly­wood. These peo­ple want to be like Hol­ly­wood stars or soc­cer stars. Is that af­ford­able and sus­tain­able, given the fi­nan­cial sta­tus of the SABC? We were shocked by these de­mands,” he said.

The soapie has 16 main ac­tors, mean­ing the pub­lic broad­caster would have to fork our R22.4-mil­lion a year in salaries alone.

The ex­ec­u­tive said the cast also de­manded pay­ment for any ad­vert writ­ten into their sto­ry­lines or one they fea­ture in dur­ing in­ter­vals.

Gen­er­a­tions is our prop­erty, not theirs. We in­vent new ways of gen­er­at­ing rev­enue through Gen

er­a­tions and pay them wages for their roles as ac­tors. Now they want a per­cent­age for ad­verts writ­ten into their sto­ry­lines or flighted dur­ing in­ter­vals of the soapie. I think they have re­ally gone too far.

When they is­sued the state­ment, they shied away from in­clud­ing these ridicu­lous de­mands of theirs, be­cause that was go­ing to ex­pose their greed to the pub­lic. They in­stead chose to por­tray the SABC as an in­sti­tu­tion that does not care about its peo­ple.”

The ex­ec­u­tive also dis­missed the cast’s claims that the SABC was not trans­par­ent with their roy­al­ties. They ex­pected a lot of money and are dis­put­ing the fig­ures we showed them. They wanted to see our books, and when we showed them… they said they want to bring their in­de­pen­dent au­di­tors to check our books be­cause they don’t be­lieve these fig­ures. We told them to bring them, but they failed. So why is that our prob­lem?”

A crew mem­ber con­firmed that the SABC man­darins blew their tops when they learnt of the cast’s wage de­mands.

You re­mem­ber that we [the cast] de­manded three-year con­tracts from the pro­duc­ers and they re­fused. So Hlaudi in­ter­vened and gave us these con­tracts, but with the same old pay rates, the crew mem­ber said, re­fer­ring to SABC chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng.

We want these rates to be changed, and for them to be in ac­cor­dance with in­dus­try rates.

The pro­duc­ers agreed to pay these rates sub­ject to ap­proval by the SABC, which said they will em­bark on a road­show to check if these rates we de­manded are in­deed payable. They never came back to us, and said what we are de­mand­ing is un­rea­son­able or Hol­ly­wood wages.”

The crew mem­ber said it was fair that they be paid a per­cent­age for the ads. You see, if you are seen pro­mot­ing Capitec on TV, Absa or FNB won’t touch you. That dis­ad­van­tages us.”

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said he was un­able to com­ment on the ul­ti­ma­tum as it was not writ­ten by the SABC, but by the pro­duc­ers.

He said the strik­ing ac­tors were asked to pro­duce the in­dus­try rates they were re­fer­ring to.

We have also asked them to bring their own au­di­tors to have a look at our books so we can fi­nalise the roy­al­ties is­sue.”

The ac­tors main­tained that the SABC had promised to in­ves­ti­gate in­dus­try pay rates. They pro- duced a let­ter sent to pro­duc­ers Mfundi Vundla, Friedrich Stark and Costas Gavriel by Pontsho Makhetha, gen­eral man­ager for TV con­tent, which reads: At this road­show, the SABC promised to in­ves­ti­gate and re­vert on the mat­ters raised… by the 31st March 2014.” The let­ter adds: SABC has en­gaged you as a pro­ducer about bench­mark­ing of artiste fees.”


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