10 May 2017

South Africa: SABC in Financial Crisis, Admits Acting CEO

Photo: Zaian/Wikipedia
SABC offices in Sea Point, Cape Town.

"We are facing a financial crisis," admitted James Aguma, acting SABC CEO to the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications on Wednesday morning.

This is in stark contrast to Aguma's and other SABC officials' previous statements to the committee on financial matters.

In February, Aguma would only go as far as to say there are "issues", and in August 2016, Aguma and others said everything was hunky dory at the public broadcaster.

Much has changed since then.

An ad hoc committee of the National Assembly made damning findings against the SABC, there is a new, interim board, a new minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, and Hlaudi Motsoeneng, former COO, has been ordered by a court not involve himself in the running of the SABC.

Losses

Aguma presented various reasons for the financial crisis, among them the local content quotas Motsoeneng famously instituted in 2016 without doing any research on the matter.

This resulted in a loss of audience and revenue.

According to unaudited figures, SABC radio lost R29m due to the quotas, and television R183m, Aguma told the committee.

He also said MetroFM, Good Hope FM and SABC3 lost substantial audiences.

Aguma also mentioned several other "internal dynamics" which contributed to the "financial crisis".

Among these are "a number of legal matters and litigation cases that have financial and reputational consequences for the corporation", consultants, leadership instability and "consistent negative reporting by the media on events at the SABC which ultimately results in decreased revenue collection, reputational damage and staff morale".

The SABC's funding is comprised of licence fees (11%), advertising revenue (76%), sponsorships (5%) and less than 3% from government.

Aguma then presented a vast plan to turn the public broadcaster's finances around of which the pillars are to be a financially sustainable organisation, to acquire and schedule "compelling and quality programming", a motivated and fit-for-purpose workforce and compliance with governance practices.

Democratic Alliance MP Phumzile van Damme found it odd that Aguma, who is the SABC's chief financial officer, presented this factually, as he was involved in many of the decisions.

"You were in court sitting next to Hlaudi Motsoeneng where SABC money was wasted with endless litigation," Van Damme said.

She said he should take personal responsibility and resign.

Source: News24

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