7de Laan Fans Rally Against SABC's Decision to Cancel Beloved Soap Opera
Fans of the long-running SABC 2 soap opera, 7de Laan, are voicing their discontent and taking action following the public broadcaster's announcement of the show's cancellation. A petition has been organized by the 7de Laan MyNou – Amptelik group, which boasts an impressive following of over half a million Facebook users. The petition aims to persuade SABC executives to reconsider their decision and keep the beloved show on the airwaves.
To further amplify their message, supporters of 7de Laan are planning a public protest scheduled for Thursday at 10:00. The gathering will take place at Campus Square Auckland Park in Johannesburg, serving as a physical demonstration of the fans' unwavering support for the show.
The SABC's decision to abruptly cancel 7de Laan, produced by Danie Odendaal Productions, stems from financial constraints that have rendered it unsustainable to continue broadcasting the series. Despite its status as SABC 2's second most-watched show, escalating production costs have become an insurmountable burden for the public broadcaster. The final episodes of 7de Laan are currently being filmed at Sasani Studios in Johannesburg, with the last episode set to air on 26 December.
Earlier this month, production on 7de Laan was temporarily halted for three days due to non-payment from the SABC. Although the broadcaster made a subsequent partial payment after the shutdown gained attention, it still owes Danie Odendaal Productions millions of rand.
Caroline Phalakatshela, the SABC publicist, responded to inquiries about the petition, acknowledging its existence but emphasizing that the decision to cancel the show was a business-oriented one. Phalakatshela stated that the financial state of the SABC, coupled with declining viewership numbers, made it unfeasible to continue carrying a production like 7de Laan. She noted that for the show to remain viable, it would require a significant increase in audience numbers and a reduction in production costs, which the channel does not anticipate happening in the near future.
The "Red 7de Laan" petition on change.org, initiated by Jermaine Christians in July, has garnered over 38,000 signatures and comments as of Monday. The petition raises concerns about job losses resulting from the show's cancellation and questions the rationale behind discontinuing an award-winning soap opera with millions of viewers.
Kayleen Bessit, the publicist for 7de Laan, expressed gratitude for the support and acknowledged the impact of the planned protest. Bessit emphasized the significance of 7de Laan within South Africa and appreciated the determination and conviction of the show's fans in their efforts to reverse the cancellation decision.
In response to the cancellation of 7de Laan, the SOS Coalition, a public pressure group advocating for public broadcasting in South Africa, emphasized the importance of compelling content in driving audience growth for the SABC. The group highlighted that quality locally produced shows are crucial for retaining a strong viewership base and increasing revenue, primarily through advertising. The SOS Coalition urged the SABC to reconsider its budget allocation, suggesting that more investment should be directed towards producing local content. They asserted that reducing shows that showcase South Africa's diversity and foster social cohesion is not a favorable approach. To remain competitive with commercial and community broadcasters, pay-TV, and on-demand platforms, the SABC must prioritize content production and strike a balance between salaries and creative output.