SABC pulls plug on Saftas live broadcast

By Time of article published Feb 14, 2011

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The 5th South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) will not be screened live this year.

SABC2, the established broadcaster since the awards’ inception, has decided against showing them.

At a time when the small screen is flooded with prestigious international award ceremonies, from the Golden Globes to the Screen Actors Guild Awards to the British Academy Film Awards, it is tragic that South Africa’s only awards ceremony that celebrates the television and film industry will only get exposure in print publications and on websites.

The Saftas, hosted by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), will be held at Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams at Melrose Arch on February 20 (non-fiction segment) and February 27 (fiction categories).

SABC2 publicity manager Zandile Nkonyeni explained: “It is nothing more than a business decision based on our financial restraints.”

Would the SABC2 consider screening the Saftas at a later stage?

“It could be possible that we might licence it to be screened – but, right now, I can’t confirm that.”

Azania Muendane, the NFVF’s head of marketing and public affairs, said the lack of a broadcaster would not put a dampener on the Saftas.

Having been unfruitful in securing a broadcaster since last year, she added: “We (NFVF) have been in discussion with all broadcasters; and M-Net said they were happy to support the SABC broadcast because it is a public broadcaster.

“Unfortunately the SABC were unable to commit to broadcasting. Considering the challenges the broadcaster faced in the past year, we can understand why the event will not have a live broadcast.

“We are spending almost the same amount of money on production as if it is for broadcast, therefore the quality of the show is maintained.”

In a nutshell, the event will be filmed… but by the NFVF.

Muendane continued: “The Saftas committee is comfortable with the fact that the focus is now on the awards rather than a television show.

“It would have been good, though, that the public had access to the event that recognises what South Africa has to offer in terms of film and TV talent.”

As for the two award ceremonies, she said: “We do not anticipate any stumbling blocks. The production team led by Clive Morris, the Madame Zingara production team and our stuff are working very hard to deliver a world-class event.”

Soldiering on despite the media’s slating of the nomination list and the previous year’s poor attendance, let’s hope the NFVF and the Saftas will this year find some redemption from the stinging criticism.

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