Cast of Generations wants SABC to pay actors royalties

2014-06-08 15:00

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Generations actors past and present are taking the SABC to court to try to claim 21 years’ worth of royalties they say are due to them.

In papers set to be filed at the high court in Johannesburg tomorrow, current stars Sophie Ndaba (Queen) Katlego Danke ­(Dineo), Zolisa Xaluva (Jason), Menzi Ngubane (Sibusiso) and newer faces like Zikhona Sodlaka (Priska), Zenande Mfenyana (Noluntu) and Nambitha Mpumlwana (Mawande) are listed among the 13 applicants.

The applicants claim that the SABC and Mfundi Vundla’s production house have not paid them any royalties since the soapie was first broadcast in 1993.

City Press has reliably learnt that dozens more actors could join the court bid.

Ndaba states in her founding affidavit that the application is an attempt to force the SABC to ­provide the actors with information about their royalties and repeat fees.

The soapie is lucrative: In 2007 it was reported that Generations was raking in about R500?million a year.

But its dirty laundry was aired last August when the applicants downed tools and went on strike over their contracts and ­salaries.

After five weeks, their demands were met and they were given new three-year contracts.

What viewers didn’t know was that the off-screen drama was only just beginning.

Ndaba states in her affidavit that both previous and new contracts made provisions for the actors to receive “payments in respect of commercial exploitation of their images and performances on Generations”.

“The first and second respondents [the SABC and MMSV Productions, respectively] have ­confirmed in numerous meetings we have had with both parties that the payment of such royalties is the responsibility of [the SABC],” she writes.

“The first respondent is not only contractually obliged to make such payments to the respondents but also by its own ­policies.”

In an email that City Press has seen, a lawyer for the SABC agrees that the actors were supposed to be paid royalties.

“It has been noted that the principal actors for Generations have not received exploitation royalties. This has been an oversight on behalf of the SABC.

“The script writers and production houses did receive the related exploitation royalties,” it says in the email, dated November 13 2013.

Ndaba says in her affidavit that the SABC had only offered actors “vague numbers” rather than the necessary detailed information needed for them to calculate and assess what was due to them.

Contacted for comment, the actors’ lawyer, Bulelani Mzamo, confirmed that court papers had been served on the SABC but they had not yet received any response.

“My office has been contacted by other actors who have acted in the soapie in the past, but I will not divulge their names. We will assess their merits as and when they come to our offices,” said Mzamo.

“We have made some progress since the strike in October. At the time that there was the impasse the parties agreed to suspend the stayaway so that production would not suffer, but we are still continuing our engagements with the SABC and the producers,” he said.

Kaizer Kganyago, the SABC’s spokesperson, said he was not aware of the court application.

“If it is true it would be a very complicated matter. Each actor’s royalties would have to be dealt with according to their specific contract,” he said.

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