SABC retrenching workers

Sowetan LIVE reports that the SABC is currently engaging in retrenchments as it struggles to pay its service providers.

A union confirmed that the state broadcaster is struggling to pay its over R1 billion wage bill.

The SABC employs about 4,000 people, and about 1,000 of those are freelancers or contractors.

According to Business Tech, the SABC reported a R622 million loss for the year ending March 2018, after a restated R1 billion loss for the year before that.

Bongumusa Makhathini said that the losses were due to corruption and maladministration that had plagued the broadcaster for years, and ‘self inflicted’ damage through decisions like the 90-10 mandate.

This mandate meant that 90% of the music that the SABC aired had to be local. This had a distinctly negative impact on stations like Lotus FM, which Business LIVE reported last year lost a lot of listeners when it had to stop playing so much Indian music.

The station resumed playing Indian music in a bid to win back its audience.

According to Business LIVE the SABC wants to hike TV licence fees and penalties for non-paying viewers.

Meanwhile Ed Herbst writing for Biznews has slammed the decision to hire Dumisani Hlophe as the SABC’s Political Editor: News and Current Affairs.

He points out that Hlophe has no experience as a journalist, has a history of partisan attacks on the Democratic Alliance, and a general disdain for the ‘liberal mainstream media’.

My Take

The 90-10 policy is the main reason I don’t support South African musicians.

At the time Hlaudi Motsoeneng was facing major criticism over his meddling in SABC News, specifically he mandated that they couldn’t cover violent protests, and he pressured them to give positive coverage to then president Jacob Zuma.

In other words he wanted them to act as a PR office, not a news one. Journalists protested and Motsoeneng was looking very, very bad. What did he do?

He mandated that the SABC have 90% local music, in order to win over celebrities to his defense. This worked, with the musicians coming out against the journalists – and all those people engaging in service delivery protests who wanted their concerns to be heard.

Of course it isn’t commercially viable, it wasn’t supposed to be, it was supposed to be a bribe and I don’t support corruption.

The SABC’s poor financial position is going to require a lot of work to sort out. Sadly the best people are the ones who are going to get axed, this is the way these things work.

Part of the problem is that the SABC’s billing is a mess. I’ve already written about my father’s death and the subsequent struggle to get the SABC to stop harassing my mother over the TV license, and how this is a very common complaint.

The SABC’s position is probably worse than what it appears to be on paper, because this indicates to me that they’ve inflated assets – debt dies with the debtor, so how much faith  can one put in the SABC’s debtor’s book?

Picture courtesy of Mike Powell via Wikimedia Commons.

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