TV licences go up, jobs go down at SABC

2011-05-07 19:53

The SABC is rapidly turning around its losses but it will hike its licence fees and cut hundreds of jobs to complete the task.

A television war is also likely as the broadcaster puts the final touches on its 24-hour news channel, due to flash onto our screens in October.

The broadcaster expects a loss of over R200 million for the 2010/11 financial year, a massive improvement on the R500 million lost last year and R910 million the year before.

But the elusive R80 million, 24-hour news channel, which was due to start broadcasting in April this year, has again been delayed until October this year.

The corporation expects its first profits since 2008 in the current financial year (2011/12), according to spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.

The SABC will ask Communication Minister Roy Padayachee to increase TV licences to fund a R60 million shortfall in its collection targets.

The public broadcaster’s last increase (11%) was in August 2009 and it now claims that two years without an increase has cost it about R60 million.

In August 2009, domestic, business, dealer and leasor licences increased from R225 to R250 and concessionary licences for those over 70 and social grants recipients increased from R65 to R70 a year.

Documents seen by City Press show that in the current financial year (2011/12), the SABC will spend R190?million to collect R910?million in TV licences, which is about R60 million less than is stipulated in the terms and conditions of the R1.5?billion government bailout which the SABC was granted in November 2009.

Kganyago said the expected increase was part of reviewing the licence fees and that SABC bosses would send recommendations to the board and Padayachee.

The SABC blames government’s failure to promulgate the Public Service Broadcasting Bill for the decision to ask Padayachee to increase TV licences.

The bill proposed a 1% personal income tax to fund the SABC, which would have resulted in the scrapping of TV licences.

The SABC has also admitted that its commercial television channel, SABC3, is less competitive and now plans to reposition it.

Meanwhile, the SABC plans to cut its staff by up to 20% in the next three years.

Since December 2007, 358 jobs have been shed for a headcount of 3700 in February 2011. And SABC bosses want further job cuts to have a headcount of 3 000 by 2014.

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