Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

50/50 canned after 25 years

The SABC has canned the respected environmental series 50/50, apparently for financial reasons — although critics also claimed the broadcaster has a political motive.

Executive producer Johan Botha confirmed this week that the programme had been informed in a letter that it would be taken off air until April next year because of the broadcaster’s financial woes.

The SABC has tried to can the programme twice before, but it won reprieve after a public outcry.

Some critics have suggested that the postponement is an attempt by the public broadcaster to get rid of the programme without cancelling it outright.

”Postponing the programme until April might be its death knell,” Botha said. ”We all have bills to pay. Most of the crew can’t afford to wait around until April and will have to find other jobs, where they’ll have to sign at least yearly contracts. They won’t be available come April.”

Launched 25 years ago, 50/50 is the world’s longest-running environmental series and the SABC’s longest-running feature.

Viewers have started an online petition on www.save5050.co.za, which carried more than 8 000 signatures on Thursday afternoon.

A Facebook group has also been and started with almost 800 members.

Water scientist Anthony Turnton, fired by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research after his remarks about South Africa’s water crisis, said he believed the programme has been canned because it has been too critical of the government. Turnton’s own criticisms of government have been aired extensively on the show.

”The demise of 50/50 is closely associated with my own professional demise, because I used 50/50 as a channel to tell South Africans about our rapidly deteriorating water quality,” he said. ”At another level, this is a democratic issue, because any healthy democracy allows reflection and debate. It now seems this is being stifled.”

Controversial issues covered by the show include mining in the Wakkerstroom wetlands, dune mining in Pondoland, at Xolobeni, and the involvement of a Vietnamese diplomat in rhino horn smuggling. The programme criticised the appointment of Buyelwa Sonjica as environment minister.

Botha said the show had not been subjected to internal pressure, but could not comment on whether the SABC had itself been pressured.

The SABC’s decision came as a shock to the crew, who thought the programme would restart in October.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said 50/50 was taken of air temporarily to accommodate a new programme, Shoreline, which would interest 50/50‘s viewers.

He said the SABC was not aware of any complaint ”from any individual or government official” and that it ”would exercise our right to explore our options” if the current 50/50 team is unavailable come April.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Yolandi Groenewald
Yolandi Groenewald
Yolandi Groenewald is a South African environmental reporter, particularly experienced in the investigative field. After 10 years at the Mail & Guardian, she signed on with City Press in 2011. Her investigative environmental features have been recognised with numerous national journalism awards. Her coverage revolves around climate change politics, land reform, polluting mines, and environmental health. The world’s journey to find a deal to address climate change has shaped her career to a great degree. Yolandi attended her first climate change conference in Montreal in 2005. In the last decade, she has been present at seven of the COP’s, including the all-important COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009. South Africa’s own addiction to coal in the midst of these talks has featured prominently in her reports.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

South Africa breaking more temperature records than expected

The country’s climate is becoming ‘more extreme’ as temperature records are broken

More top stories

US fashion contaminates Africa’s water

Untreated effluent from textile factories in in Lesotho, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius and Madagascar pours into rivers, contaminating the water

Deep seabed mining a threat to Africa’s coral reefs

The deep oceans are a fragile final frontier, largely unknown and untouched but mining companies and governments — other than those in Africa — are eying its mineral riches

Komodo dragon faces extinction

The world’s largest monitor lizard has moved up the red list for threatened species, with fewer than 4 000 of the species left

DA says ANC’s implosion has thrown local government elections wide...

The DA launched its 37-page manifesto on a virtual platform under the banner “The DA gets things done”.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×