Once they were only doodles and then they were brought to life. No, we are not talking about Garfield and friends here, but local artist Zapiro’s political cartoons.

Art lovers and fans were happy to hear that the idea of the characters, which included Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, DA leader Helen Zille and President Jacob Zuma were going to be on TV in a satirical puppet show called ZANews.

Though the idea was revolutionary, the powers that be were not impressed and no mainstream TV station would touch it. The next place the show could be seen was online.

Airing for three seasons, the show was popular for poking fun at political figures and their actions.

Fans will be sad to learn season four is proving hard to produce because of financial problems.

“In the conspicuous absence of a mainstream broadcaster and in the current economy, sponsors and advertisers are not exactly throwing money at us,” said Thierry Cassuto, the managing director and executive producer of ZANews.

Airline kulula and other local sponsors pulled them through the first three seasons, but now they are looking for international help as well as donations from fans.

“We are now sitting at R28 000 through crowd funding. It is an incredible figure, but we will need more to complete the whole season. Fans can visit our website (www.zanews.co.za) to see how they can help us,” Cassuto said.

With the TV landscape expanding fast, one would think that the show would be picked up by one of the newer TV channels, but that has not happened.

“While we were on Summit TV and Cape Town TV in the previous seasons, we are looking at expanding our visibility so we are in talks with other TV stations to see if we can be aired there, too,” Cassuto said.

In an environment where we advocate freedom of the press, it is sad that products such as ZANews are not yet “acceptable” for public broadcast. Only time will tell how this story will unfold.