Johannesburg - Following an apology by the producers of SABC1’s soapie, Generations: The Legacy to viewers who had complained about the inclusion of hot sex scenes on the show last week, many are asking whether sex on TV really sells.
The soapie, which airs on weekdays at 20:00, was hauled before the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA), which found that it broke its code of conduct.
Last week, the SABC was forced to scrap the week’s episodes on its Saturday omnibus because of the complaints.
Generations’ spokesperson Gaaratwe Mokhethi said: “We deeply apologise. Our main mandate is to truthfully tell stories that mirror our society, and in doing that, our plan going forward is to pay more consideration to our viewers’ feedback as their feedback is very important to us.”
Many have asked whether what used to be the country’s most watched soap is desperate to reclaim viewers in a ratings war.
SABC1’s isiZulu soapie, Uzalo, has occupied the number one spot for more than a year, attracting 8.6 million viewers, beating Generations: The Legacy into second place with 8.3 million.
However, Mokhethi insists that the scenes had nothing to do with any bid for better ratings and were simply part of the story line.
“The soap world is known for telling stories filled with passion, but in telling those stories we don’t want our viewers to feel any sort of discomfort.”
However, another popular soapie, SABC2’s Muvhango, has been on air for more than 20 years with not even a kiss in sight.
Muvhango producer Duma Ka Ndlovu told City Press that when he created the show, “we wanted to come up with a drama series that Africans would relate to and be proud of”.
“Most Africans are still uncomfortable to watch sex or kissing scenes with their children on television,” he added.
“Muvhango does not feature smoking, drinking [alcohol], violence, kissing or sex scenes. These are not in our DNA.
"Our aim was to create a drama that would inspire young people to lead a clean life. We also wanted to create role models for good, clean living. It is still so 20 years down the line.”
Ndlovu, however, was quick to point out that he would not judge other dramas’ scripts.
“I cannot dictate to other soapies what kinds of scenes to show as they have their own DNA.”
So, does sex sell? Media activist Kate Skinner says it does, but it depends on whether the programme is appropriate for its time slot.
Broadcast policy expert Dudu Makuse feels that it is the responsibility of parents and broadcasters to ensure that children do not have access to pornography or nudity.
“Generations should have put a warning disclaimer before they showed sex scenes, and they should have been more responsible and warned the viewers during prime time,” she said.
“Artists are supposed to be controversial ... but it should be done responsibly, without limiting producers’ and writers’ creativity.”
TV critic and writer Thinus Ferreira said:
“At 20:00 a large number of kids are still watching TV. I have watched the Generations episodes and think they went too far. Parents and grandparents are watching with their children.
“The story line isn’t wrong, but the level at which the visuals go to is pushed too far. A woman showing up at a guy’s door in her black underwear is not really appropriate for a public broadcaster.”
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