I don’t watch much television, but there are a few shows that I believe are worth catching, primarily because they feature current, local content I find interesting and relevant.   One of them is Pasella, a weekly Afrikaans language magazine show about the latest in South African lifestyle trends (Wednesdays at 7.30pm on SABC 2) and the other is 50/50, a show that has pursued and explored environmental concerns in South Africa, and presented them to the public in what I’ve always found to be an informed and balanced manner.

50 | 50 has influenced environmental policy, stirred the public against environmental injustices, promoted the work of our dedicated conservationists, and helped to create a stronger awareness of conservation and environmental issues in South Africa. (via)

50/50 has been going for 25 years… I remember watching as a child, but it was quite a while before I started watching again, when I realised that it wasn’t just a programme about animals and wildlife (the parts I remembered), but about serious environmental issues as well (which obviously went right over my head when I was younger!).

What I liked best about the show was the fact that they weren’t afraid to tackle issues from completely unexpected angles.  And that they covered successes as well as failures, acknowledging all sides of the argument, but without pandering to anyone.

Well, for some bizarre and inexplicable reason, this great show is going off air.  I sat, gobsmacked, this Monday as the show hosts announced that this would be the last show until April 2010… perhaps the last show ever.  Say what?

I can’t fathom any good reason for canning the show.  It’s local, it’s informative, it’s balanced.  But, naturally, it has uncovered plenty of environmental injustice, and stepped on quite a number of important toes.  Toes that don’t like to be bothered and questioned and exposed to the light.

Perhaps I’m jumping the gun here, and there may be other elements about which I’m unaware.  But, if, as it seems, the show is being ditched because it’s making too many waves, well, frankly, that makes me spitting mad.  And I, for one, will definitely be joining the cause to reinstate 50/50 – or to find another way to have their voice heard, whatever that might be.

So, to start with, I’ve signed a petition at www.save5050.co.za.   I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to the effectiveness of petitions, but I feel it’s as good a place to start as any.   And, I’ve joined the Save 50/50 group on Facebook, to keep updated.

I feel strongly that if we just let this slip by, any and all other programming that challenges the powers that be will be allowed to slip into obscurity.  Even if 50/50 doesn’t make it back onto television, I hope there is another avenue through which they can continue their fantastic work, perhaps even on the web – where their voice will still be heard.

PS. I’m all for balance: if anyone does know of good reasons for stopping the show (budget constraints, lack of viewership – that sort of thing), I’m all ears!

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