SABC 'deficiencies clear'

2009-03-10 17:03

Cape Town - Deficiencies in corporate governance at the SABC are clear for all to see, Minister of Communications Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri said on Tuesday.

"The deficiencies in corporate governance at the SABC are quite clear for people to see," she said at an economic, investment and employment cluster briefing in Pretoria.

A report by the auditing firm Deloitte and Touche found that the SABC board is split into two opposing camps, fighting over political control and the public broadcaster's editorial independence, placing corporate governance "under severe strain".

The SABC's top management have predicted that the public broadcaster will make a loss of R784m in 2009.

Some of the factors responsible for this include the poor management of overhead costs, consultant fees and marketing cost overruns.

The SABC said last week that it expected to lose R400m from the unforeseen cancellation of advertising expenditure, related to the global financial crisis.

Less than two percent of the SABC's funding comes from the government. It earns the majority of its income from television licences and through commercial funding, which include advertising sales.

The SABC has discussed the possible long-term re-evaluation of its current funding model with Treasury.

"The SABC chief has indicated the current situation in the world has caused foreign and domestic advertisers to withdraw from the SABC," Matsepe-Casaburri said.

"The SABC had depended on that. This had caused financial stress for them."

Treasury had not yet indicated whether it would assist the SABC, Matsepe-Casaburri said.

She said reports into the SABC had found that there had been a bloating of staff within the organisation.

The acting chief executive of the SABC Gab Mampone had indicated that the organisation was looking at ways of reducing costs.

Some of these would include a hiring freeze and significantly reduced travel budgets.

Matsepe-Casaburri said there were legal limitations, constraining her ability to interfere at the SABC.

"Legally my hands are tied in several other ways," she said.

The government was also unable to help the broadcaster's public broadcasting section.

"The government can not support the SABC in its commercial activities as this would be unfair on its competitors."