SABC executives appear before parliament committee

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is dwindling deeper into financial ruin, reporting a loss of R193m since the beginning of the year, however the broadcaster's executives are confident that it can be saved.

The SABC appeared before parliament's communications portfolio committee on Wednesday, 24 June 2020, to give an update on the public broadcaster's affairs, which point to a dire situation.

Advertising and sponsorship revenue was R207m (51%) below budget for the month, with TV business contributing R140m of the underperformance, the SABC said.

Programme and Sponsorship revenue for TV exceeded budget by R8m at R26m.

600 SABC staffers to be retrenched

One of the main focuses of the briefing was the 600 jobs which will be lost at the SABC in the wake of its financial struggles. Staff members have been served with notices of possible retrenchments, which will likely be followed by a formal consultation process facilitated by the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA)

"Target reduction of R700m in employment compensation cost is required to give the SABC reasonable prospects of achieving financial sustainability", the execs said.

The executives further attributed the losses to the COVID-19 lockdown, which resulted in less advertiser revenue.

"It has been a double edged sword as general economic activity has been significantly curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic which has witnessed significant cuts in the industry ad-spend. Further, we ran out of fresh content as productions on some of our key programmes was halted which led to noticeable decline in viewership", the presentation read.

The SABC cannot fail

While discussing the broadcaster's target operating model, the executives said that it was time for a collaborative approach by all stakeholders to deal with the huge cost base that threatens the viability of the SABC.

"We have concluded that the SABC cannot collapse under our watch", the presentation further read.

Sexual harassment policy under review

The SABC Sexual harassment policy is currently under review as well as the Sexual Harassment Standard Operating Procedure, the broadcaster said. Sexual harassment educational workshops for HRBPs are planned on how to effectively deal with cases of sexual harassment and to ensure that any recommendations emanating from investigations are in line with policy provisions and principles of law.

In 2018, an investigation found there was sexual harassment plaguing the SABC, and that Human Resources had failed to protect victims who spoke out against the abuse, among others.