The credibility and authenticity of this year's upcoming 12th South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) has once again been compromised with two of the biggest local soaps, Generations and Muvhango that have both been locked out of the awards show's Most Popular TV soap category in response to them boycotting the competition by choosing not to make any entries for the awards at all.
As in previous years, the winner of the Most Popular Soap category at the 2018 Saftas - as voted for by viewers - will this year once again not be a true reflection of what the viewers' choice really might be since people who want to vote for Generations or Muvhango won't be able to.
Meanwhile Generations is SABC1's second most watched show and soap, pulling 8.77million viewers during December. Muvhango remains SABC2's most watched show and soap, and drew a sizeable 5.3 million viewers during December.
This year Muvhango, SABC2's Venda soap produced by Duma Ndlovu's Word of Mouth productions, and SABC1's Generations - The Legacy produced by Mfundi Vundla's Morula Pictures, both decided not to enter the Saftas organised by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).
Because the NFVF forces soaps and telenovelas to enter in other categories if they want to be listed in the Most Popular Soap category, this year Generations and Muvhango - like the past 2 years - have been blocked from the Saftas.
This is the third year in a row and the fourth time overall that Muvhango has publicly made it displeasure with the NFVF's Saftas known. Last year Muvhango that was joined by SABC1's Skeem Saam, slammed the awards show and its judging process as "not fair".
In 2017 Muvhango said that "there has been little if any effort from the Saftas organisers to improve the judging process or allowing the public vote to hold rank".
Previously the Saftas locked out 7de Laan (2012), Binnelanders and Villa Rosa (2013) and Muvhango (since 2014) from the Most Popular Soap category for the shows' refusal to enter in categories. In 2012 e.tv pulled its soaps Rhythm City and Scandal! as well as all its other shows from the Saftas and last year Uzalo on SABC1 was also out of the running.
Generations in a statement to TVwithThinus says "we have been entering the Saftas since the inception of Generations - The Legacy in 2014, hoping our talent will be recognized but unfortunately our cast hasn’t received such recognition from the Saftas. We opted not to submit entries the 12th Saftas."
"We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge our growing share in viewership and would like to thank our viewers for making us one of the biggest shows in the country; it’s their consistent recognition that propels us to keep telling ground breaking stories that create a discourse in our society."
Meanwhile the NFVF and the Saftas organisers seem unable to get and foster unanimous buy-in for the awards show, with talks between the organisers and South Africa's production community that has not yielded improvement, despite new promises last year to sort out the problems and differences.
The NFVF in response to a media enquiry asking why it keeps blocking soaps from the popular category, told TVwithThinus that "the NFVF recognises and is in full support of all TV and film productions in South Africa".
"But as per the Saftas entry guidelines, the public can only vote for entries that were submitted by production houses. Furthermore, if a soap or telenovela is not entered, it cannot be considered for voting by the public."
Asked what happened to promises last year to personally engage and speak with shows who have concerns over the Saftas and its judging - nobody knows for instance who the judges are and what they're judging - the NFVF says it did talk to producers.
"The chairperson of the SAFTAs, NFVF CEO Zama Mkosi, and the Saftas overall chairperson, Firdoze Bulbulia as part of the 11th Saftas post-review, endeavoured to engage with the production houses that did not enter the 11th Saftas, in an effort to explain the Saftas entry process. The meeting ended in an agreement that the shows would enter the 12th Saftas," says the NFVF.
Voting has now opened for the Most Popular TV Soap category - excluding Generations and Muvhango.
SMS'es cost R150 and free SMS'es can't be used. People can vote by sending an SMS to 48430 with the code number corresponding to the show they're voting for.
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The 12th Saftas will this year once again be taking place at Sun City in the North West province between 22 and 24 March for a second time, with the 2018 Saftas nominees that will be announced on 2 February.