In Debt

In Debt, a popular SABC1 reality show that helps ordinary people get out of bad debt, has been selected for Input 2012, an annual international festival that celebrates non-commercial television as voted by industry peers.

The five-day annual festival and conference is held in a different country each year, with Sydney, Australia playing host in 2012 from 7 to 11 May. Input is a unique television event, presenting over 90 hours of challenging international drama, documentary, factual and transmedia content.

In Debt is produced by Ochre Moving Pictures, an independent TV production company based in Johannesburg. Over the years it has created a string of well-known shows – Scandal!, Relate, Kwanda, Takalani Sesame and Made in SA – and received multiple awards and accolades for its productions.

“To be selected for Input is a great honour,” says Stan Joseph, Ochre’s CEO. “This is the second year we have been chosen. Last year our SABC1 relationship show Relate was also selected. Innovation in public broadcasting is what Input is all about so we are thrilled that In Debt has been chosen. It’s a wholly original show that can hold its head high among the world’s best.”

Input was founded on the idea that television should be “public service in the public interest”. The organisers believe that “access to the most honest, innovative, provocative, courageous and challenging broadcasting is a universal fundamental human right.” Input is also a meeting place for broadcasters, commissioners, producers and directors from some 50 countries who share content, ideas and aspirations.

In Debt will be presented alongside two other programmes in a session titled Change Your Behaviour, looking at the impact of factual entertainment in the public broadcast space. Today reality shows are a prominent feature of commercial TV schedules, their popularity earning them record ratings. Now public broadcasters are producing similar shows, but with the aim of improving lives rather than raking in the bucks. These shows tend to focus on problems of our age – debt, unemployment and environmental protection – and offer solutions.

In Debt puts personal debt in the spotlight by following a series of characters who are desperate to get out of debt. A feisty Debt Doctor – real-life debt counsellor Thoko Nchabaleng – is their debt recovery coach. She gives the characters interventions that are not always easy, but that guarantee results. An episode follows each person for six weeks and the effects are often astonishing.

Watch a excerpt from In Debt:

“The show has been very well received,” says executive producer Anton Burggraaf. “Viewers have responded positively to the simple but life-changing advice from the Debt Doctor. She is a supernanny for debt disasters, a card-cutting, straight-talking financial whizz who stops at nothing to get our characters to change their behaviour.” Behavioural change content has been successful for Ochre Moving Pictures with previous hits like Relate and Kwanda.

In Debt comes at a time when personal debt has reached dangerously high levels in South Africa. There are 19-million credit-active consumers with an average of three accounts each, and about 9-million of them have missed more than two instalments. About 5 000 cars are being repossessed every month. South Africans spend about 78 cents in every rand to service their debt, a massive increase since 2003 when it was only 48 cents in every rand. In Debt is right on target giving viewers hope that they can solve these problems – with courage, willpower and a plan.