JOHANNESBURG - The South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) on Tuesday declined to state how much it owed the producers of hit TV show Uzalo.
This is after Stained Glass Pictures, producers of Uzalo, confirmed on Tuesday that the SABC's biggest daily telenovela had been put on hold after crew and the staff were not paid their August salaries.
SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu told the African News Agency (ANA) that the SABC’s contractual obligations and relationships with service providers were confidential and as a result, she cannot disclose such information.
Last week, the SABC board told Parliament that it was in dire financial trouble and was unable to meet certain commitments as it only had R26 million in its bank account while owing creditors R694 million.
“The SABC has reported on numerous platforms that it is experiencing dire financial difficulties, with the corporation unable to meet its monthly financial obligations, after making critical payments,” Momodu said.
Momodu added that payment arrangements were being made with suppliers, service providers and creditors and they were proactively engaging with these stakeholders.
“We remain concerned that a financially distressed public broadcaster will not only have negative effects on its staff, the local production industry, small, medium and micro enterprises, but on every citizen,” added Momodu.
In a statement, production house Stained Glass Pictures said that the crew and the staff decided to suspend their services after they were not paid their salaries on August 25.
Early this month, the company’s leadership called a meeting with all affected staff to explain the situation and give them options of either continuing to work until month end or taking immediate leave until payments could be made.
Executive producer of Stained Glass Pictures, Pepsi Pokane, said the overwhelming majority of the crew elected to keep working until the end of August.
“As a company, we carried the costs of production for as long as we were able to, while waiting for the outstanding payments to be settled by the public broadcaster. Since we were unable to make payments on payday, the 25th of August, the staff have exercised their right to withhold services until they receive their August salaries," Pokane said.
“We respect that decision and appreciate the work that they have put into the show this month despite the uncertainty."
Pokane said they have been engaging with SABC and confirmed that the corporation has committed to honouring outstanding payments by the end of the August.
“We are in constant contact with the broadcaster and are confident that this will be all be resolved in the next week,” Pokane said.
African News Agency (ANA)