Twenty years into our democracy and the performing arts is still the only industry in this country that is not legislatively regulated and broadcasters continue to exploit artists. An alleged contract by MTV, shared on social media, shows the extend of exploitation that has kept our talent in shackles.
It has become common place to read or hear that someone who has been in South African entertainment industry with an illustrious career is broke. For most fans and audiences, the idea that someone can be on television or have a hit record and still be broke even though they are considered a star is unfathomable.
It's often thought that South African artists just squander their fortunes when they make it and do not really harness their fame for their long term financial security but most people do not understand that the cards are always stacked against the artist to succeed in this country — especially when it comes to money.
— Tony (@TonyKgoroge) March 1, 2017
Cultural and Creative Industries of SA president, Tony Kgoroge, shared a screen grab on Wednesday alleging that it is part of an MTV contract and asked if the conditions of highlighted clauses in that contract were a standard policy elsewhere.
The contract portion reads;
There is no mention of compensation in these clauses thus leaving one thinking the company will be making money off of the CONTRACTOR, which is the artist, and he/she walks away with nothing. This is exactly what was a one of the points of contention in the case between Morula Pictures and the fired Generations 8.
The SABC and Morula pictures were making millions by licensing rights to broadcast the show in other countries and the actors were getting nothing out of such deals. Clearly this is what MTV is doing with local talent. They can use their performances and likeness to generate profits, IN PERPETUITY, and the artist is not going to get a cent.
How is this legal let alone morally ok? MTV is owned by Viacom International Media Networks (Africa), which also has MTV Base, Comedy Central Africa, Nickelodeon Africa’s channels and BET on their roster.
If this alleged contract is a standard for all Viacom channels, then this is truly a travesty. Now you understand why our local stars can not command the fortunes commanded by their counterparts in other entertainment industries in developed countries.
Artists have no share in the profits made using their talent beyond the paycheque they get for the day they performed. That in itself is nothing to be happy about, because, thanks to our archaic salary system, actors get a standard pay rate based on their experience and not the success of the show.
How is this still allowed to happen? These companies are run by black people... black AFRICAN people. As I mentioned in my article responding to producer Shona Ferguson's rant about whites being treated better in this industry, this is not a white problem; it is a black problem. We have black people signing off on these clauses that continue to disenfranchise our people. Hold them accountable?
I am saddened by this because the cycle of exploitation is clearly not breaking even as our industry grows. Artist should not have to aspire to go overseas to make a living because in this country even when the media and public perception says "you made it" contracts such as these still ensure that your bank account does not reflect that.
THIS IS NOT OK. The industry should be outraged. Artists should be making their voice heard and denounce this practice with the contempt it deserves. Enough is enough!