SABC 'will run out of money by April' if turnaround strategy isn't implemented

The SABC recorded a loss of R511m for the year ending March 31 2020, and is considering retrenchments to reduce its costs.
The SABC recorded a loss of R511m for the year ending March 31 2020, and is considering retrenchments to reduce its costs.
Image: Tyrone Arthur

Should the turnaround strategy not be implemented, the SABC will run out of money by April next year.

This was the warning from the public broadcaster's management after meeting with the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) this week.

“Sanef is of the view that urgent action must be taken to avoid this situation, which will be to the detriment of millions of South Africans,” said the forum's Hopewell Radebe.

On Friday, the board of the SABC suspended the section 189 process for a period of seven days.

Radebe said Sanef had meetings with the broadcaster's editors and executives on Thursday and Friday.

In the meetings, Sanef proposed that a mediated process be followed to try to “resolve the impasse, as the instability in the news division at the public broadcaster threatens its ability to deliver on its expansive but sadly unfunded public mandate”.

“It was clear to Sanef that none of the parties dispute the critical need for the SABC to restructure and cut costs.”

Radebe said the editors indicated they remained committed to the restructuring of the SABC, but said there was not sufficient consultation about the proposed restructure.

Government cannot speak about the importance of the SABC but fail to provide it with the necessary financial support.
Hopewell Radebe, Sanef

According to Radebe, group CEO Madoda Mxakwe said Treasury conditions on the bail-out it received included reducing its salary bill, which currently represents more than half its revenue and 43% of its expenditure.

In the news division alone, 93% of the budget is spent on salaries.

"Management also warned that should the turnaround strategy not be implemented, the SABC will run out of money by April."

Radebe said Sanef was concerned that the broadcaster's “critical public mandate” has never been funded sufficiently by the government despite promises over the years.

“Government and political parties cannot speak about the importance of the SABC but fail to provide it with the necessary financial support to execute that mandate.

“The SABC executive reiterated its commitment to continue to deliver on the SABC’s constitutional mandate despite the lack of funding from the shareholder.”

“Sanef believes a mediated process between the newsroom and the management team will allow for the management team to share with the editorial staff the vision for the SABC, and explain the difficult choices it had to make as part of safeguarding the sustainability of the SABC.”

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