Thursday, March 31, 2011

BREAKING. Public protest and picketing coming to M-Net's media launch of its new soap The Wild this Sunday over actors' rights.

The Creative Workers Union of South Africa (CWUSA) plans to picket and publicly demonstrate at the planned glitzy media and press launch of M-Net's new soap The Wild this Sunday afternoon 2 April at 16:00 at Montecasino and to hand a manifesto to the pay broadcaster about actors' rights in South Africa.

- Earlier in the month I broke the news RIGHT HERE about the wild drama behind The Wild where actor Tony Kgoroge decided to quit the drama after a contract dispute.
- He was then replaced by Putla Sehlapelo with all the scenes in which Tony Kgoroge appeared that had to be reshot from the beginning.

- And just last week I brought you this story of actors Rika Sennett and Sulette Thompson both saying on television that actors in South Africa are growing old poor because of the payment system. that actors in South Africa in general have to endure.

Now CWUSA plans a public picketing demonstration at specifically M-Net's launch of The Wild. ''We held a press conference this morning [Thursday 31 March] on the issue of the actor's unfair dismissal. He refused to sign the M-Net contract which would have required him to sign away all commercial exploitation rights and the right to residuals,'' says CWUSA president Kid Sithole.

''If he had signed the contract M-Net would have taked away his cash cow. When he didn't sign the contract he was dismissed. We engaged with M-Net management but to no avail. By picketing the launch of The Wild CWUSA is sending a strong message to broadcasters not to tamper with actors' rights. As part of the picket we will present a manifesto to M-Net.''

Meanwhile the South African Guild of Actors (SAGA) has set up a meeting with M-Net for 14 April to specifically discuss and talk about contractual issues and residuals.

The Media Workers Association of South Africa (MWASA) has added their voice to the risigin frustration saying they ''support this protest action unequivocally and without reservation''. ''MWASA unreservedly supports the legitimate claims for the paying of residuals by South African broadcasters,'' says Tuwani Gumani, MWASA's general secretary.

''The broadcasters actually make obscene profits from the professional work of these creative workers,'' he says. ''We have witnessed some of our comrades live the lives of beggars whilst their works were the toast of the broadcasters. We have witnessed the joy and enjoyment the creative workers bring to our screens big and small. Their works have consummately educated, seamlessly entertained and indelibly enriched our lives beyond measure. We have witnessed many who have passed on paupers whilst their works continue to bolster profit margins for broadcasters.''

I reached out to all the major South African broadcasters today that produce local TV content with urgent media enquiries to ask them about their policy on residuals and the money - if any - they pay actors for rebroadcasts and their views about this issue today. SABC failed to respond. said it was sourcing answers but didn't respond in time for this article either.

M-Net's communications manager Lani Lombard responded and said M-Net's current standard contract with actors compensates them for their services ''and is inclusive of fees for residuals, royalties and repeats''.

''When we determine the renumeration of actors for their services we take this into account, and as a result we pay above average renumeration. The details of the renumeration levels are confidential, but we believe the levels are more than fair. One must also remember that we work via agents when engaging actors, and thus we contract directly with the actor's agent.''

Lani Lombard said M-Net ''pride ourselves in boosting the local television industry by creating and commissioning as many local productions as possible. M-Net commissioned productions are fully-owned by M-Net for broadcast on all our platforms.''