Production experts in the TV industry could not believe their eyes when they saw an advert posted online for a senior position.
Looking to hire a commissioning editor in Johannesburg at an annual salary of R800 000, the ad read: “Please note: We are specifically looking for a white, English-speaking commissioning editor as this role is for someone who will produce soapies and programmes in this specific demographic.”
Alerting City Press about the patently racist ad, one source – who does not wish to be named for fear of jeopardising their employment prospects – applied for the position and engaged with the recruitment agency, Kandhi Consulting.
The position, they were told, was for M-Net.
“They were specific about the TV station being M-Net, the kind of contracts M-Net offers, the psychometric tests that it does, etcetera.”
M-Net has distanced itself from the ad, saying it was not authorised and that the work had been subcontracted by its agency to another recruitment outfit without the company’s knowledge.
Yolisa Phahle, the chief executive of M-Net, said the station was “appalled” by the “racist, unlawful and disgraceful advert, which would be contrary to our recruitment policy, our values, the Constitution and other legislation”.
She sent City Press the extensive role profile that had been submitted to the original recruitment agency. It made no mention of demographic requirements.
Another TV executive, who also wished to remain nameless, could not contain their disbelief when shown the ad. “There are lots of excellent black commissioning editors who handle work in other demographics. Since when can a black person not make TV for white audiences? White people make TV for black audiences right across the film and TV industries. This is just racist.”
Kandhi Consulting staff were, at first, happy to speak to City Press over the phone. They confirmed the authenticity of the ad and that it was for a position at M-Net.
However, they referred us to their more senior associates, Ambit Recruitment.
Ambit’s Caren Doyle denied any involvement in the ad: “I confirm that this was not something that M-Net or Ambit was aware of, and we do not condone it either. The consultants in question had, at the time, just started working with Ambit Recruitment and posted this ad in their own capacity.
“It was a very unfortunate oversight, which should not have happened. This is in no way a reflection of our clients’ policies, nor that of Ambit Recruitment,” Doyle protested.
M-Net’s Phahle said the company had established that, “without our knowledge, our recruitment agency subcontracted another agency to advertise the commissioning editor vacancy”.
“Our proposed advert, sent to our recruitment agency for this vacancy, made no reference to the race of the applicant. Our recruitment agency has advised us that it did not mandate the subcontracted agency to word the advert in this racist manner.”
Phahle said attempts to reach the subcontracted agency by telephone had not been successful by yesterday.
“We view this in the most serious light and are investigating the matter. We will take appropriate and firm action, including of a disciplinary nature, should we find that anyone on our behalf was involved in the production of this abhorrent ad,” she said, adding that the station produced “shows that reflect our country’s diverse cultures and languages”.