Generations and legacy of local TV industry

2014-12-01 15:33

Generations The Legacy returns with many unanswered and ignored questions. As the biggest TV show on South African television, the biggest local TV production, and the public broadcaster’s biggest revenue earner, Generations is a bellwether for the local TV biz.

The damage in financial, reputation and image of the unmanaged implosion behind the scenes has been immeasurable for the SABC, the actors, the production company and also impacted the local TV industry.

That the SABC’s biggest TV show can suddenly collapse and disappear off air with no experienced, hands-on and acute SABC top management intervention was yet another symbolic indicator of the unstable situation regarding programming the South African public broadcaster finds itself in.

Irrespective of who’s right and who’s wrong, the scandal has revealed the ugly behind-the-truth: how expendable South African on-screen talent are and how quickly and easily they can be dumped and replaced. The contracts for the new batch of actors on Generations are no different than those they’ve replaced.

The Generations fall-out will also make other actors, their agents and crew on shows, all think twice – if the biggest show on TV muscles legacy actors like Sophie Ndaba out who had portrayed a famous character for over two decades because the actress dares to speak out and complain, what chance does talent on lesser shows have?

The SABC’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng promised in August that an independent panel would be set up to look at musicians and actors’ contracts, employment working conditions, and some of the pressing issues which were highlighted during the Generations meltdown mess. Three months later, and there’s been no word since about the establishment of this panel supposed to check international standards in dealing with these issues.

The real legacy of Generations The Legacy is that South Africa’s on-screen talent in TV and film are not yet united enough in a strong, consolidated, unionised voice to act on behalf of and in the interest of actors. If Generations can suddenly disappear from the SABC, what does it signal about the SABC’s capability to handle and cope with talent and show disputes and to keep productions going?

And as viewers tune in for Generations as it becomes Generations The Legacy, will viewers return for a new generation so that the show can reclaim its ratings crown, or has the SABC’s Generations brand been damaged irreparably?

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