Rous House Productions (RHP) producing the casino-set drama series is now taking the SABC to court in a dramatic showdown after an unsuccessful meeting between the production company's executives and the SABC on Monday.
SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng repeatedly this year said how he's boosting and supporting 90% local content and working for better a better work environment and job security for struggling local artists but last month the South African public broadcaster suddenly told the show it will pull the plug within a month just before Christmas.
The SABC said it is "not in a position to discuss its contractual obligations with production houses and content providers with third parties, including the media".
SABC3 viewers and the South African TV industry have slammed the SABC for the shortsighted and "bisarre" decision – especially since the SABC renewed the show in May for a third season and increased the episode order from 3 to 5 days per week.
TVwithThinus also learnt that the SABC plans to cull the SABC3 broadcast schedule of High Rollers’ remaining episodes, trimming the show back to only three episodes per week in 2017.
Meanwhile RHP executives – including the writing and directing executive producer brothers Luke and Joshua Rous – have been fighting to save the show and the livelihood of actors and crew who will be out on the street within weeks without intervention.
"RHP has no other choice but to approach the courts with an application for an urgent interdict to stop the SABC from cancelling High Rollers," says Luke and Joshua Rous.
"This application was served on SABC on 7 December and a court date has been set to hear the urgent case within the next week."
"At the same time RHP is submitting an application to the broadcasting regulator, Icasa, to intervene on an urgent basis and set aside the SABC's decision to cancel the High Rollers contract."
Irresponsible SABC decision
"Not only is this the worst possible time of the year for this to happen, but is also in contradiction to SABC's decision to increase local content to 80% on SABC3," says Luke and Joshua Rous.
"RHP feels that the SABC's decision to cancel High Rollers within just 30 business days is in bad faith".
Executive producer Meren Reddy says "This news is devastating to us especially after all the hard work we have put in to increase our output from broadcasting 3 episodes a week to 5 episodes a week only 3 months ago."
Executive producer Luke Rous says "hundreds of people have been affected by this irresponsible and unjust decision."
Executive producer Joshua Rous says "it has been the privilege of a lifetime for us to lead this committed and passionate team, which has formed our High Rollers family. RHP has been overwhelmed by the public support for High Rollers and we appreciate the outpouring of love for the show."
An online petition at change.org entitled "Stop the SABC from Cancelling High Rollers" has so far amassed more than a thousand signatures from the South African public and TV industry.