Angry viewers have now started a petition started a petition to try and save SABC3's cancelled prime time soap High Rollers while the show's producer, fighting to keep the show on the air, is slamming the SABC's decision to can the show as "unjust and wrong".
The SABC abruptly decided it wants High Rollers off the TV channel's schedule, mid-contract, within a month – despite having said repeatedly this year through SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng that it supports local content and more local programming for SABC3.
The producers and large cast and crew of High Rollers, currently in its 3rd season, are shocked while the SABC has so far not responded to media enquiries about the show's sudden cancellation notice coming just weeks before Christmas.
Executive producer Luke Rous from Rous House Productions is slamming the SABC's decision to dump High Rollers as "unjust and wrong", saying "we love making High Rollers, we are two-thirds of the way through our signed contract and we want the SABC to honour the commitment they have made to us".
Viewer Raeesa Khan from Durban has now started an online petition over the weekend to save the show, begging the SABC not to can High Rollers, with hundreds of viewers who have already signed the petition.
The petition can be found here.
'Stupid SABC decisions'
"The SABC has been making some really stupid decisions, the latest being their sudden announcement to cancel the local television show, High Rollers," says Raeesa.
"This show is one of the most popular local programmes and cancelling it would be the biggest mistake the SABC could make at this point in time. It’s about time that the viewers' opinions are taken into consideration".
Furious and upset SABC and SABC3 viewers quickly flooded the petition with their comments of vote of support.
"What will be left of SABC3? We want High Rollers to stay," said Amone Robbertze, with Sarahann Du Plooy saying "I think the mismanagement at the SABC is unacceptable. Actors and producers are in South Africa deserve a fair chance to create a future for themselves".
"I support the SA TV industry and I believe this would negatively affect it and many people involved," said Frances Hepburn.
"It's a good show and employs and empowers many South African families," says Thabi Gumede who already signed the petition.
"The SABC will be making a very rash decision by cancelling High Rollers. It will have a massive impact on the crew, actors and producers who will all be without jobs. It's not fair," noted Rozanne Bishop.
High Rollers that was launched in April 2013 was renewed for a full third season of 156 episodes in May this year and extended from three to five days per week, with the SABC no longer calling it a telenovela but a prime time weekday soap.
After the production company with producing and directing brothers Luke and Josh Rous, struggled for four and a half years to finally get the show on the cash-strapped SABC in 2013, the SABC now suddenly wants High Rollers with its large ensemble cast gone and cancelled – within 30 days.
While the ratings for High Rollers has fallen since May when Hlaudi Motsoeneng abruptly ordered a quota of 80% local content for the channel, it is in line with the entire SABC3 viewership that keeps spiraling down month after month since the introduction of new local shows viewers have made clear that they don’t want to see.
High Rollers is however fighting back against the SABC’s shock decision that will leave actors and crew without jobs and income to support their families by Christmas.
Production company Rous House Productions says "the SABC have signalled their intent to cancel High Rollers within 30 business days" and was told the SABC is taking the decision "based on programming strategy changes on SABC3".
"Rous House Productions does not agree with the SABC's cancellation letter". Rous House Productions in a statement says that it's working with the SABC to try and "resolve this matter."
High Rollers' large ensemble cast includes local stars like Anthony Coleman, Thapelo Mokoena, Terence Bridgett, Hayley Owen, Jai Prakash, Vilje Maritz, Thishiwe Ziqubu and Thishiwe Ziqubu.