The SABC is not broke or about to fold, says CEO

The SABC is not insolvent, acting group chief executive Gab Mampane said yesterday.

The SABC is not insolvent, acting group chief executive Gab Mampane said yesterday.

"Also, we are not under liquidation," Mampane said at a briefing in Johannesburg.

The national broadcaster was reacting to reports that it was financially-strapped to the extent that it could not pay creditors.

"We are concerned, but are not in crisis mode," said the broadcaster's board finance committee chairperson Gloria Serobe.

The corporation's responsibilities in delivering coverage of the April 22 elections, the Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament "will be delivered", Serobe said.

The problem was cash liquidity, said Mampane.

The SABC faced a R784million deficit this year, said chief financial officer Robin Nicholson. An estimated R400million of this was from the unforeseen cancellation of advertising expenditure because of the global financial crisis.

It was also under financial pressure because of, among other things, the cost of changing from analogue to digital technology and suppliers' insistence on upfront cash payments of up to 50percent on expensive contracts. Banks had also reduced the corporation's lines of credit - also in response to the global financial crisis.

The national broadcaster was slashing budgets, collecting debt more aggressively and was formulating a new financial model.

It had also held talks with the national Treasury - more to obtain a guarantee for the banks than a cash hand-out.

A request had been made to the government to increase television licence fees, which had gone up just twice in the past 11 years, despite annual increases in the cost of collecting them.

At the moment, contrary to rumours, the corporation could afford to pay its staff their salaries, said Serobe. - Sapa