Top DJs may earn less as SABC mulls hourly rate cut

Robert Marawa
Robert Marawa

SABC radio's big earners such as DJs Fresh, Glen Lewis and Justice Ramohlola, as well as sports presenter Robert Marawa could be in for a big salary cut.

This follows a proposal to the SABC's executive committee (Exco) to endorse a proposal by the public broadcaster's head of radio Nada Wotshela to standardise freelance hourly rates earned by radio presenters. The proposal was made during an exco meeting in January. 

According to an internal memo dated January 17 2019 and seen by Sunday World, Wotshela argued that the public broadcaster needed to standardise salaries of independent contractors across all stations as the SABC was paying some presenters more money than their shows were making in revenue for the stations.

She said in the memo that she was seeking the executives' endorsement as there were no guidelines regulating the remuneration of freelancers.

"Each contract is determined by whoever is negotiating. Return on the investment is seldom considered, which leads to stations paying certain freelancers more than the revenue delivered by their shows," argued Wotshela in the memo.

DJ Fresh
DJ Fresh

Sunday World understands that DJ Fresh leads the pack of highest-paid radio presenters in the country with an hourly rate of R3,600 at Metro FM, followed by Glen Lewis with an hourly rate of R3, 500.

However, Robert Marawa, who according to his contract signed in August last year earned R7,000 an hour for his simulcast show on Metro FM and Radio 2000, would have been the top earner across all radio stations if his pay and appointment were not managed by SABC Sports department.

Also said to be affected by the guidelines is Ramohlola of Radio 2000. The veteran radio presenter, popularly known as Just Ice, reportedly earns an hourly rate of R3,300.

Justice Ramohlola
Justice Ramohlola

According to the memo, the stations that will offer the best rates if the changes are implemented are Metro FM, Ukhozi FM, Umhlobo Wenene FM, Lesedi FM and 5 fm, which all bring in more than R150m in revenue.

At these stations, for example, the hourly rate for a freelancer presenting a 6am-9am morning show would range from R1,500 to R2,300, while the same show at a station that makes between R80m and R150m in revenue would offer a rate of R1,000 and R1,800 an hour. Stations in that range include Radio Sonder Grense (RSG), Motsweding FM and Thobela FM.

Morning show presenters at stations such as Ligwalagwala FM, Good Hope FM, SAfm, Phalaphala FM, Ikwekwezi FM and Munghana Lonene FM would earn between R600 and R1,200 per hour.

The least-paid radio presenters, according to the memo, would be presenters who work for stations such as Radio 2000, Tru FM and Lotus FM.

Glen Lewis
Glen Lewis

The memo also deals with payments for producers, writers, producers and actors for radio drama series for all radio stations as well as religious contributors.

DJ Fresh, whose real name is Thato Sikwane, said he was not aware about the memo or the proposed new rates, but said he was not expecting a pay increase this year.

"For the 12 years that I have been with the SABC, everyone negotiated their own rate, and this was done based on their own perception of their own worth. But I don't think there will be a freelancer who will get a pay raise this year because of the current financial situation," he said.

SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu said: "The SABC will not discuss the rates and salaries of individuals in the public domain as the SABC respects the confidentiality of contracts entered into with its employees and independent contractors."

Marawa and Glen Lewis had not responded to questions.

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