SABC ‘ready’ to launch 24-hour news channel

2012-08-07 07:03

The SABC is ready to launch its new 24-hour news channel, group chief executive Lulama Makhobo has said.

“We are ready... the team is busy transforming how it operates to fit in with a 24-hour service approach,” she said.

The news channel would first be available on DStv and later be offered on digital terrestrial television when the signal came on.

Makhobo said the news channel would be multilingual.

“We are not seeing our ... channel as being purely South African. We see it as a Pan African channel which will bring much more regularly news from the rest of the continent that affect[s] South Africa,” she said.

DStv had contributed a substantial amount of money which would be paid to the SABC every month over the next five years.

“We are hoping we will be able to spread to the rest of the continent and anywhere else where Multichoice currently operates,” she said.

At the beginning, the channel would start with fresh news for six hours and “rapidly” grow to the 24-hour mark.

More revenue would come from advertising as the channel gathered momentum.

Earlier Makhobo confirmed that she had submitted her medical certificate, required as proof for her absence during the disciplinary hearing of news head Phil Molefe.

“The medical certificate was submitted. I was indeed very ill. The board was informed and agreed I did what I needed to do, and the board was comfortable that I had done what I needed to do,” she said.

There had been reports that Makhobo was ordered by the chair of the disciplinary hearing to provide proof as to why she had been absent.

Thami Ka Plaatjie, the SABC board deputy chair, said the board was aware of Makhobo’s illness.

“We think that is unfair for people to say [the medical certificate] was demanded by the chairperson of the hearing,” he said.

He said the public broadcaster was in a financially healthy position.

“That is why we emphasised the fact that we are able to meet the government guarantees. We speak with a liquid amount of R1 billion in our account. We are stable,” Ka Plaatjie said.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the acting chief operating officer, echoed Ka Plaatjie’s views.

“She [Makhobo] has turned the corner at the SABC. I know people are talking but the reality at the SABC is that we have turned the corner... it is a different animal now.”
Motsoeneng said the SABC would retain talent by giving its contracted workers three year-contracts instead of the traditional 12 months.

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