South Africa: SABC to Focus On OTT Channels, Local Content

Communications and Digital Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams says as part of its turnaround strategy, the SABC will turn to over-the-top services to ensure that viewers consume content on their mobile devices in a bid to help the public broadcaster up its revenue.

This could see the SABC, which already streams most of its content on platforms like YouTube, optimizing the use of similar platforms to generate traffic and raising advertising revenue away from its traditional platforms.

She said this when Ministers in the Economics Cluster fielded oral questions at the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday.

Her remarks come as government makes a push to lead the public broadcaster back to financial sustainability and less reliant on bailouts.

"The SABC as we have outlined in the turnaround strategy, what we have said ... is that it is important that we make SABC the best public broadcaster and that means key to it, it to ensure that we source local content that will help us raise the revenue that we talk about, but also to explore the technology that we talk about.

"Recently we have had the CEO of SABC mentioning that they are embarking on over the top technologies (OTT) to make sure that people can access their services as and when they want, wherever they are. They need not be in their cars or in their homes to [watch] their TVs, but they can access them on their mobile devices," she said.

Last month, the SABC received the initial tranche of R2.1 billion of its R3.2 billion bail-out after meeting several pre-conditions set to it by the National Treasury.

Part of the pre-conditions that the public broadcaster met were to:

Determine immediate cash requirements supported by detailed cash flow projections for the next 12 to 18 months;

Submit a list of identified initiatives for revenue enhancement and cost-cutting initiatives;

Conduct a thorough investigation into what caused the financial collapse of the SABC and why previous turnaround plans have failed to be successfully implemented;

Provide an update of how the entity is dealing with the people implicated in the investigation report; and

Develop a turnaround plan incorporating measures to prevent the reoccurrence of the identified factors. This must also take into account various reports including those of the Special Investigating Unit, Public Protector, Auditor General and Parliament.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said: "But on top of that, we want to look into our existing infrastructure at the SABC and assess as what is it that we don't need and then decide on whether we want to sell or lease to ensure that SABC generates revenue.

"Key to that is the sensitive issue that has always been raised in relation to the productivity of the workers of the SABC and we have agreed that we are going to conduct a skills audit so that we can retain and make sure that the employees of SABC are responsive to the future broadcaster".

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