GUPTA LEAKS: WHAT ANN7 WOULD HAVE BEEN

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

OPINION: The ugliest and most awful thing e.tv and eNCA have EVER said - and why even an Emmy winning filmmaker can't pay the rent with 'exposure'.


One of the ugliest and most disgusting things were publicly stated today in South Africa's television industry in a publicly released press statement.

And no, it surprisingly didn't come from the SABC's corporate affairs office, but from e.tv and eNCA (DStv 403).

Sabido's TV channels said it will will take an Emmy winner and a South African filmmaker's documentary and show it - but won't pay for it and only if these commercially-run channels can get it for free.

Well, "exposure" doesn't pay my rent and probably also not the salaries of the TV executives at e.tv and eNCA who I presume are not paid in bags of mealies either.

It's from eNCA and e.tv that condescendingly gloated and noted today that the Emmy winning filmmaker Rehad Desai is "welcome" to "drop off a copy at our studios" of his documentary film and that eNCA and e.tv would then "gladly" do so [broadcast it] "for free".

Disgusting.

Rehad Desai just won the 2015 International Emmy award for best documentary for his harrowing documentary film, Miners Shot Down.

I was writing about television long before e.tv became a TV station.

I was there from before and have covered it since it's little brother on MultiChoice's DStv started - the eNews Channel that transformed into eNCA and its ongoing journey. eAfrica. eNews Africa. OpenView HD.

I've seen them launch and grow and I've tracked them all meticulously since as I do all South African television.

While the SABC as South Africa's public broadcaster stooped pretty low in the past with disgusting, erratic and downright crazy behaviour and said some very destructive and disturbing things, what e.tv and eNCA said on Tuesday ranks as my all time worst public remarks from these Sabido channels. Ever. 

And yes, that includes even HCI's Yunis Shaik and his notorious, alleged missive of " I work for a living sucking dick!"

Make no mistake about it: What e.tv and eNCA said is what they want the public to know.

They chose their words and specifically want people and South Africa's TV industry to know - hence a public statement - that they won't pay for Miners Shot Down but that yes, they will show it - just not pay for it.

On Tuesday there was no congratulations or positive remarks from e.tv and eNCA supporting someone who is working in, supporting, winning for South Africa on the world stage, and trying to earn a living while doing so and making that one thing that all TV channels and broadcasters hold most dear: TV content. 

Instead e.tv and eNCA decided to eviscerate Rehad Desai [who I've never met] and his Miners Shot Down documentary which has won numerous, numerous awards, saying in so many words that his documentary film is worthless.

We only pay for something that has value, right?

It was dirty, low ball and aggressive attack by e.tv and eNCA in my view on a filmmaker and a South African one at that who just won an International Emmy, one totally uncalled for and way below e.tv and eNCA's maturity level as people as as a business.

I get what e.tv and eNCA probably tried to do: Scared of growing negative sentiment, and with public pressure building over the circulation of a public petition calling for Miners Shot Down to be shown on the SABC and e.tv, my guess is that e.tv and eNCA wanted to distance themselves from appearing politically biased.

My guess is that e.tv and eNCA wanted to show that they're not not showing Miners Shot Down due to any political agenda, influence or leanings but purely because they don't want to and because during negotiations the price for the product - in this case an Emmy winning local documentary - was too steep.

Instead e.tv and eNCA now come across as just plainly disgusting and cheap - just like Mfundi Vundla of SABC1's Generations who can't fathom why actor's can't be cheaper and why they apparently don't come for free.

Every single person - yes, even those working in television - work for money. Apologies for stating the probably obvious, but apparently it's not so obvious to e.tv and eNCA.

"Exposure" doesn't pay your bills even if you work in media or the content generation or creative industries. 

The executives as well as the the corporate affairs and marketing and public relations people at e.tv and eNCA all know that very well, but on Tuesday they decided to throw Rehad Desai under the bus in a very big way - and by implication all of South Africa's local content producers.

I hate it, and I hate that e.tv and eNCA did that and in such a terrible, pathetic, thoughtless and dismissive manner.

Filmmakers and South African TV and film content producers deserve better and e.tv and eNCA should go to their own broadcasting eAcademy and get an education.

e.tv and eNCA deliberately chose to send a rotten, untrue and extremely wrong message to South Africa's TV and film industry: That there's instances where we as oh so mighty TV people who need content and work in the content business will "gladly" take your content and will show it ... if we don't have to pay for it.

Oh, and you should be glad because it's "exposure".

By the way, giving your content to a TV channel is what you should do according to them - meaning give it to them for free - should you, as e.tv and eNCA say in their statement to Rehad Desai "feel the film requires further exposure to a South African audience".

If I were Rehad Desai my gentle words to eNCA and e.tv would be ... "Go f* yourself".

Rehad Desai isn't a top 25 M-Net Idols contestant who doesn't know better and is singing for free to get "exposure".

Rehad Desai isn't a lowly job seeker entering the TV and film industry who have to work as an unpaid intern just to get desperately needed "experience" at some company to try and have something on the CV.

And Miners Shot Down definitely isn't Fanny By Gaslight and Walker, Texas Ranger and Backstage or Anaconda: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid and all the other trash TV that e.tv has shown over and over and over and over many times because poor viewers have apparently not yet seen it enough.

Yet e.tv and eNCA have the eye-rolling audacity to say they don't want to show Miners Shot Down because there's been "no aspect to the Marikana tragedy we have not covered" and that they've done enough Marikana massacre coverage.

Well. Let me educate: Eating is never done. Growing up is never done. Life is never done.

In television and in the news business, the wheel never stops turning.

There's always space and place on the schedule for showing more, for bringing more perspectives, for showing more sides.

I'm venturing a wild guess here, but I thought that's the business eNCA is in and wants to be in.

Among all of the repeats on the e.tv schedule yet another Marikana programme will not seem odd. And how about Platco Digital's OpenView HD and its channels?

If I worked in TV, I'd think that a documentary like Miners Shot Down would be a nice pick-up for one of my locally packaged TV channels that desperately need new content on the bouquet like eAfrica+ or eMovies+ or eKasi+ to make it stronger and stand out a bit and to strengthen their individual channel propositions.

Furthermore e.tv and eNCA know that documentaries like Miners Shot Down are distributed by local and international distributors.

How platitudinal to go in a disingenuous sounding press release that "his office is welcome to drop off a copy at our studios". It doesn't work that way.

How about saying "congratulations Rehad Desai for producing an outstanding and award-winning documentary, and with persevering with a difficult story you wanted to tell. Previously our content executives couldn't successfully negotiate a deal to show Miners Shot Down but we would love to sit down again with the relevant representatives to see if we can bring this important piece of television to our South African viewers".  

That is apparently too much and too high-brow difficult for e.tv and eNCA who opted to rather go with the trashy and decidedly downmarket "we therefore extend an invitation to him to accept our offer of a free broadcast". 

It is so hugely offensive to me.

There's also huge irony in the fact that eNCA that continues to struggle in adequately telling the press on a consistent basis about its actual programming and what it is going to show, is quick to put out a press release about what it won't show (unless it gets it for free).

Yes, Mahala on e wasn't just a show on e.tv - it's apparently e.tv's attitude when it comes to procuring content.

With the often trashy advertiser-funded productions (AFPs) that litter e.tv's schedule (Hi Edgars! Hi Pick n Pay! Hi FNB!) it's actually a surprise that e.tv and eNCA didn't ask Rehad Desai to pay them.

Uhuru Productions should probably be glad that e.tv will show Miners Shot Down just for free instead of asking a fee. Phew!

(Don't forget that e.tv and eNCA also cut loose and threw away Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola - another programme that also managed to win an International Emmy and rightly was and should be a jewel in the crown of any channel's programming line-up. Perhaps Diprente Productions should have offered LNN to eNCA and e.tv for free...)

I really don't understand why e.tv and eNCA had to be so hard and harsh and trying soo much to be dismissive and disparaging. It's our TV industry you as broadcasters are shamelessly asking to give you content for free.

e.tv and eNCA's press statement is as tone-deaf bad as the ANC spokesperson idiot on Monday who congratulated the Miners Shot Down "cast members" in a hollow statement filled with fake sentiment. (The documentary has no cast - only miners, police, killed miners and widows.)

Will e.tv and eNCA tell Steven Spielberg or George Lucas or Michael Moore that they will show one of their films for free? For the ... "exposure".

Dear e.tv and eNCA, go ask the WWE for their trashy wrestling content for free because its become too expensive. See what happens.

Yet sadly e.tv and eNCA have the audacity to publicly say and ask that of a South African documentary filmmaker. One whose work just got recognised internationally.

I often speak to TV and production executives off the record, often at the sidelines at TV events, and they always openly talk to me about what they might want, don't want, can't afford, just bought and are looking at. They also quite openly will say when certain shows or programming are bad and what they won't buy.

What I don't understand is why e.tv and eNCA had to come out and say publicly that they don't want something, but actually will want it if they can get it free.

Why publicly try and trash someone by deliberately saying you won't, and will show a locally made documentary but only if you can get it for free because the price previously was too expensive?

It's really low and unbecoming of TV brands like e.tv and eNCA.

And guess what e.tv and eNCA? Quality ain't cheap. Miners Shot Down is obviously quality, even if you want to make as if it's worth not paying for. It was judged by peers worldwide to be the best TV documentary in the world for this year. 

What e.tv and eNCA said today in their joint statement ( a statement issued without even a subject line) doesn't build and doesn't support South Africa's TV industry. It belittles it. And that's wrong.

The irony of course is that e.tv and eNCA are a part of this TV industry.

So they're throwing mud and meanwhile slinging some of it at themselves, getting themselves dirty trying to throw shade.

For every established and up-and-coming documentary maker and TV producer and someone with a dream to make TV content in South Africa, I want to say, don't give up. Keep pursuing your dream. 

Rightly expect and demand to get paid for your work and your blood and sweat and tears and time and creative and intellectual property. 

Don't give up what you make for free to others who don't care even if it really matters and should be seen - because what you do and earning and making a living out of it, matters too.

Even if broadcasters like e.tv or eNCA show disrespect and make as if you're a lowly intern who made a movie with a shaky Sony handheld, or tell you that what you ask is too much, please never lose the respect and dignity you have for yourself and what you create. 

Keep doing what you love. Persevere.

And always stand up for yourself - even when you're undermined and shot down by people who should know better.