24 April 2017

South Africa: Interim SABC Board Will Reverse 'Stupid Decisions' - Tsedu

Photo: Mike Powell/Wikipedia
The South African Broadcasting Corporation headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa (file photo).

There would be no shortcuts in earning back the public's confidence in the South African Broadcasting Corporation, interim board deputy chairperson Mathatha Tsedu said on Monday.

Addressing Parliament's communications committee, Tsedu outlined the interim board's priorities in "refloating" the entity.

One of their top priorities was reversing bad decisions, he said, which included the 90% local content rule, which was introduced by Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

"A lot of stupid decisions were made without applying intelligence," he said.

He said the decision on changing content had cost television R183m, and radio R29m.

This started with a loss of audience, and then the loss of advertising.

Another priority included the hiring of qualified and efficient leadership, as well as regaining public trust in the broadcaster.

"We have prioritised what we think we will be able to do in the short time we have. This includes finding a group CEO and COO, to ensure stability at the top," he said.

But they could not really focus on that, he said, as there was currently no money at the public broadcaster.

Finding the money would take precedence, he said, and in tackling these issues they would start to win back public trust.

He said the new board was not an executive one, but they were essentially meeting every day due to the severity of the problems they were dealing with.

"We are at the SABC every day. We have essentially met 18 times this month," he said.

Implementing the ad hoc committee's report on the SABC, as well as the Public Protector's report, was also essential, the committee was told.

The board also asked for assistance from the committee with putting pressure on government to ensure that national interest issues - such as elections and state funerals - were financed through the fiscus.

These put a drain on the SABC finances, Tsedu said.

"The financial crisis has seen the SABC unable to meet its contractual commitments. Monthly revenues is lower... and a number of service providers of vital television content have not been paid. This has potential to collapse the entire programme schedule on all SABC channels," he said.

The committee lauded the interim board for the work they had started doing at the SABC.

The board will only be in charge for six months, before a permanent board is appointed.

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