MultiChoice announces R80m fund for production staff hit by lockdown

MultiChoice Group released a statement on Friday afternoon announcing a fund of R80 million to protect employees in production as various broadcast events wound down due to the coronavirus lockdown.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the 21-day lockdown earlier this week and said South Africans would have to stay home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, which claimed the first two lives in South Africa on Friday.

Ramaphosa also urged companies to develop systems to protect employees who would be financially vulnerable to work stoppages, and allow workers who did not fall into the essential service categories to stay home.

MultiChoice Group CEO Calvo Mawela said broadcast employees, including production crews, creatives and performers, would be vulnerable to the economic impact of the coronavirus lockdown as work in production winds down.

Securing income

"Our main concern is to ensure as much as possible that we secure the incomes of creatives, cast and crew over this period. We want to ensure that they and their families are not negatively impacted as work has come to a standstill," said Mawela.

The MultiChoice statement said the funds would allow the company to pay its staff in full for the months that the lockdown lasts.

"MultiChoice has set aside R80 million to ensure that current productions are able to pay full salaries of cast, crew, and creatives for the months of March and April, by when hopefully we will have the worst of the disruptions behind us," the statement said.

The statement said securing salaries of creative workers and entrepreneurs would go a long way toward creating income stability for them and their families, and that this would be critical for the industry as well as simply the right thing to do.

The company would also be supporting online learning, it said.

"Through the MultiChoice Talent Factory we will be launching an online learning portal that will support over 40 000 members of the industry to gain access to courses and online master classes, so they can continue to hone their craft whilst adhering to the public health measures of social distancing and isolation," the statement said.

The statement said MultiChoice would commit to guaranteeing the incomes of freelancers in SuperSport Productions, who were unable to work due to the suspension of sport and the national lockdown.

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