M-Net: Whites now welcome to apply to film academy

Students at Magic in Motion Academy. (M-Net)
Students at Magic in Motion Academy. (M-Net)

Cape Town – In an abrupt turn M-Net says white students are now allowed to apply for internships at the South African pay-TV broadcaster's film academy.

It follows pressure from the trade union Solidarity that said it will be filing a class action complaints with the South African Human Rights Commission (HRC) about what it said was "M-Net's discriminating Magic in Motion internship" programme and which led to an escalating race row with the broadcaster.

M-Net said that it wasn't breaking any laws by excluding whites from applying for internships for its Magic in Motion Academy (MiM).

On Tuesday M-Net's lawyers said that all race groups can now apply for MiM Academy internships.

The MiM Academy started as a brand-new corporate social investment (CSI) initiative this year, doing phenomenal work in 2015 to expose South African film students, working as interns, to the South African television business by getting hands-on experience across a range of M-Net, kykNET and Mzansi Magic channels' productions.

The MiM Academy is overseen by the veteran producer and director Bobby Heaney as the academy's director.

M-Net increased the number of internships from 12 for 2015 to 20 for 2016 but said that whites are not allowed to apply and that internships are "strictly EE (Employment Equity) qualifying candidates only – black, coloured and Indian".

Applications for the MiM Academy for 2016 close on 11 December.

M-Net has now changed the advertisement, with it now saying that "applications are open to all and preference will be given to EE qualifying candidates".

"In a letter received from M-Net's lawyers it is indicated that the internship is now open to all races," says Dirk Groenewald, the head of Solidarity's Centre for fair labour practices.

"Should it transpire that no white candidates were included in the programme, this amendment would only have been lip service and we would continue to lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Commission."

"From now on, Solidarity will also act as watchdog for similar cases and should there be non-compliance with legal requirements we will not hesitate to approach the courts," says Groenewald.

M-Net that originally issued a statement inviting candidates for the 2016 class and the requirements, didn't issue a statement about the revised MiM Academy application requirements.