“Massive challenges’ lay ahead for public broadcaster SABC, the SABC board chairman Ben Ngubane reported on Tuesday 23 February at the parliamentary committee hearing on SABC’s turnaround strategy.
According to the SABC’s 2008/09 financial statements, its revenue increased by only 0,9% up to the end of March last year, while its spending rose to 19%. Its loss before income tax was R913-million.
Ngubane, the former Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, said his six-week-old board had assumed responsibility “for an organisation that is not only financially troubled, but where there have been failures of governance, failures of competence and, as a consequence, loss of public faith’.
In order to slash costs, the Business Day (24/02/2010) reported that job cuts were “looming at the SABC’. The SABC staff complement was 3957 and the new board and management are reviewing the number of employees and wage bill as part of its turnaround strategy and process. The public broadcaster’s wage bill soared to 15.3% in the 2008-09 financial year.
A requirement of the R1,47bn state bailout as well as a recommendation of the report provided by the interim board to the new board was that the wage bill had to be reduced.
“Although the SABC will, in the near future, consider changes to its structure … the corporation is not ready to provide any concrete detail at this stage,’ said Ngubane. It would be in a position to do so “within the next month to six weeks’, he said.
The state recommendation required SABC to submit a corporate plan to the Treasury by the end of March, 2010.
The SABC turnaround strategy will aim to clean up corporate governance lapses, stabilise the organisation and begin a process of achieving financial sustainability in 2011. A drive was under way to recognise the sales and marketing unit as well as license fee collection to increase revenue as fast as possible and to devise strategies to retain the broadcaster’s audiences.
SABC is also appealing to the Department of Communications and Parliament’s communications committee to help it get the auditor-general to undertake a comprehensive forensic audit because it cannot pay for such an audit itself. A forensic audit is necessary to determine the “malfeasance’ within the organisation, SABC deputy chairwoman Felleng Sekha told the committee.
SABC CEO Solly Mokoetle said a turnaround planning unit had been established in his office to address both the lack of capacity and corporate governance within the SABC.
Mokoetle was firm on the question of whether consultants should be brought in. “The SABC has been consulted to death … We’ve got the templates, we know much better than any consultant,’ he said.
Sources: Business Day, Weekend Post, Sapa, MISA-SA, SOS: Supporting Public Broadcasting