In a shock announcement yesterday, e.tv announced that it has withdrawn all its programming and presenter participation from this year’s South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas).
In a short statement, the free-to-air channel’s Monde Twala, group head of e.tv channels, said “e.tv remains committed to acknowledging the local film and television industry as a whole. It is unfortunate that we have had to withdraw our programming from the Saftas but we feel that it is necessary to do so in order to achieve greater organisation cohesion”.
e.tv wasn’t clear on its reasons but promised to “confirm further details as soon as discussions are concluded”.
Shortly afterwards, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), which organises the awards, said the NFVF and Safta committee “learnt with great disappointment” of the withdrawal of e.tv from the awards.
In its statement, the NFVF said Ms Keshni Rajoo, e.tv’s manager for local programming, sent the channel’s withdrawal letter from this year’s Saftas and in it, expressed her dissatisfaction “over the manner in which the Saftas business is conducted”. The letter confirmed e.tv’s withdrawal from the awards.
“The withdrawal by the e.tv, comes as a shock and surprise as the Saftas committee is not aware of any dissatisfaction regarding E.TV’s participation at the Saftas. It is safe to mention that Ms Keshni Rajoo, their regular representative in the committee, had never conveyed their concerns to the Saftas committee,” said Eddie Mbalo, chairperson of the Saftas.
“This is definitely a blow to the entire film and television industry, as the Saftas recognise local productions and individual talent. The process leading to the awards allows for production companies, not necessarily TV channels to submit their projects to be considered for the Saftas nominations. It is unfortunate that the individual practitioners and companies are being denied an opportunity to be celebrated by the country and industry peers by one of the broadcasters,” Mbalo said.
e.tv shows which had been nominated for the 2012 Saftas include Rhythm City, Scandal! and Club 808.
Mbalo said “e.tv’s participation has been considerably low during the committee interactions, at which all channels are represented”.
“We wish that Ms Rajoo and E.TV could have approached the committee in order for their concerns to be addressed and resolved as it has been accepted that the development of the SAFTAS is a dynamic process,” he said.
“Maybe if the broadcasters were playing their part and even contributing towards funding of the SAFTA’s, the withdrawal would not be at the drop of the hat as is the case at the moment,” he added.
In the meantime, e.tv said it “recognises the work done the by NFVF and is supportive of the establishment of an independent industry academy which will administer the Saftas”.
“e.tv’s withdrawal is unfortunate considering that the NFVF as the only contributor to the Saftas has done everything in its power to ensure that all the processes are open, transparent and democratic,” said Zama Mkosi, CEO of the NFVF. “The NFVF has always ensured that everyone is on board in the best interest of developing an event that is clearly in the control of the industry.”
The Saftas take place on March 9-10 at the Gallagher Estate, Midrand, and will be broadcast on SABC on Sunday March 11.