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American Film Companies behind Efforts to Redress Imbalances of the Past

The American film and television industry association and member companies have expressed their support for efforts undertaken by the South African government to transform the industry as part of efforts to redress the imbalances of the past.

This was expressed in a meeting that took place in Los Angeles, United States of America, yesterday between the American Motion Picture Association (MPAA) and the South African delegation, which was led by the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Bulelani Magwanishe. The US delegation included high-ranking officials from MPAA, HBO Paramount Pictures and Fox.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss concerns raised by the American studios through the MPAA about the newly-revised South African foreign film and television incentive programme which came into effect on 1 September 2018. The main bone of contention as far as the Americans were concerned was the requirement to procure a minimum of 20% of qualifying goods and services from entities which are 51% black-owned.

In his opening remarks at the meeting, Deputy Minister Magwanishe went to great lengths to explain to the American companies that economic transformation in South Africa was an imperative of government aimed at redressing the imbalances of the past.

“As a country we are pursuing a transformation agenda to reverse the legacy of apartheid. To this end, we have put our money where our mouths are by establishing an incentive programme to support the film and television sector to attract foreign investment into the country. The minimum we are requesting from foreign companies is that 20% of their procurement spend should be from majority black-owned companies some of whom are here with us today, if you want to access the incentive,” emphasised Magwanishe.

In their response, the American companies and their association expressed support for the transformation objectives of the incentive programme and indicated that they appreciated the initiative to engage with them face-to-face in order to address on their concerns and allay their fears.

“The fact that you have come all the way for us to engage on this matter has made a good impression and sent a very strong message about South Africa’s intentions to the industry here. Many people are talking about you here in Hollywood. We support the transformation process in South Africa and it makes economic sense for productions to use as many local people as possible. We are already doing that in South Africa shooting The Warrior series and have had a very positive experience. We are even contemplating shooting season two of the series there and bringing more projects,” said the Senior Vice President of HBO, Mr Jay Roewe.

The Vice President of Production, Tax Planning and Incentives at Fox, Mr Karen Mbanefo said her company supported the transformation objectives of the incentive programme but needed to know how they would go about fulfilling the 20% requirement.

The Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at Paramount Pictures, Ms Shwan Covell said the involvement of the South African government in supporting the film and television industry made a huge difference and produced positive results. Her company has had a positive experience working in South Africa and implied that the 20% requirement would not deter them.

The Vice President of Production and Investment Planning at Disney, Ms Mary Ann Hughes said: “As a business we are risk-averse and need absolute certainty and clarity about the 20% requirement. After this meeting we are looking forward to bringing more projects to South Africa. We feel it is our responsibility to work with business belonging to Previously Disadvantaged Individuals in your country.”

Speaking on behalf of the MPAA, Marianne Grant said the association absolutely supported the transformation objectives of the South African government.

“As a trade association we are looking for strong infrastructure, sound regulatory framework, the local industry keen to tell its own stories, and the government that cares for the industry,” added Grant.

Reading from the same script – Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Bulelani Magwanishe and the Motion Picture Association of America’s Marianne Grant after their meeting in Los Angeles, USA.

Sidwell Medupe-Departmental Spokesperson
Tel: (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
Issued by: The Department of Trade and Industry
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