Environmental show 50/50 now facing extinction

The SABC recently announced that it is “resting” the local environmental and conservation programme 50/50. This means that the 25 year old show has been taken off the air, with the promise that it might be reconsidered for broadcast at the beginning of next year.


The show, which has dealt with numerous ecological and environment issues was well-loved and often one of the few shows that people considered worth watching on SABC. It was also fearless in confronting big polluters, irresponsible developers, mining groups and public officials whose activities endangered the environment.


50/50 was one of few shows that brought a hard, investigative and educational aspect, not only to national television, but the environmental world at large; it was the world's longest-running environmental series!


So, the question is, why has the SABC pulled the plug on a highly popular and well made show?


The reasons they give are in conflict. Firstly, they told executive producer Johan Botha that the “rest” was due largely to their current financial problems. But this isn't what SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago told a reporter for The Times when he stated that the reason for the “rest” was because they had to offer new shows a chance. He has also said that the decision had NOTHING to do with their financial woes.


Now, either communication within the SABC is terrible – or something else is  happening here.


The SABC have tried to cancel 50/50 twice before, and failed both times due to significant public outcry. It seems that the current “rest” or hiatus is nothing more than an attempt to get rid of the show without actually cancelling it. Kganyago has said that the crew of the show are not a concern of his, and that they will manage on their own. Is he hoping that they will get new jobs so they cannot come back to revive the show?


If it is really about financial problems, why then did the SABC still refuse to accept the show, even after the team at 50/50 suggested that they would find sponsors so that the SABC would get the show for free?


Some have suggested that the financial situation has given the government an excuse to make certain decisions that it could not have ordinarily made. Was it because the show often threatened the interests of certain politically-tied people?


Ponder on this: The former minister of energy and minerals was often scrutinised by 50/50 for some of her irresponsible actions. Now she is the minister of environmental affairs. We'll leave you to make the connection...


A movement to save 50/50 is growing, and you can sign up at http://www.save5050.co.za/ or join the Save 50/50 group on Facebook, which is already one and half thousand strong...


sources: The Star

Mail and Guardian

The Times

Mother City Living