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MultiChoice sets aside millions for production staff during lockdown

MultiChoice has set aside R80m for salaries and wages for professionals working in the production industry
MultiChoice has set aside R80m for salaries and wages for professionals working in the production industry

Pay-TV MultiChoice will continue to pay hundreds of cast and crew members on their various productions during SA’s 21-day lockdown.

Countless TV shows have been forced to pause production as per President Cyril Ramaphosa's strict instructions that people stay at home as the country tries to arrest the spread of the coronavirus.

On Friday, MultiChoice committed to pay creatives on active shows such as Isibaya, The Queen, The River and more their full salaries during the period.

The pay channel said it has set R80 million aside to make sure this happens.

“MultiChoice has set aside R80 million to ensure that current productions are able to pay full salaries of cast, crew, and creatives for the months of March and April, by when hopefully we will have the worst of the disruptions behind us,” a statement from MultiChoice read.

“The need to secure salaries of our creatives goes a long way in creating income stability for them and their families. We believe this to be critical for the industry and in our view simply the right thing to do.”

MultiChoice Group CEO Calvo Mawela added: “Our main concern is to ensure as much as possible that we secure the incomes of creatives, cast and crew over this period. We want to ensure that they and their families are not negatively impacted as work has come to a standstill.”

Mawela further promised that the income of freelancers that work on SuperSport Productions will also be paid. Currently those freelancers are unable to work after suspension of sport nationwide.

“As an industry made up of thousands of freelance actors, producers, directors and camera operators, Africa’s video entertainment industry is particularly vulnerable at this time,” Mawela said.

“These people play a critical role in keeping viewers and communities informed, entertained and connected.”

South African Actors Guild (SAGA)  welcomed the gesture by MultiChoice.

SAGA Vice-Chair Adrian Galley said what MultiChoice did demonstrated goodwill and encourages a sense of solidarity in the industry.

“We look forward to engaging MultiChoice in this spirit when freelancers are deemed to be employees for certain provisions of Labour Law as proposed by the Minister of Employment and Labour. We ask that Multichoice consider recognizing the rights of freelance actors in South Africa to earn as their counterparts around the world do.”

“SAGA remains committed to finding workable solutions to the ongoing sustainability of our industry and to its continued viability at this challenging time.”

Early this week Generations: The Legacy told Sowetan that they will pay their cast and crew during the national lockdown.

Other popular SABC and e.tv daily shows such as Scandal!, Rhythm City and Uzalo failed to answer the question of whether their actors and crew will be paid during the period.

“Uzalo production will officially be halted from Thursday, 26th March at 2pm and we will resume production on the 20th of April,” Uzalo head of PR Nomfundo Zondi said.

“The show will remain on air and uninterrupted by the lockdown. However, the lockdown does put production under 'post lock down' pressure to deliver more episodes per week until we catch up with our delivery schedule.”


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