Cabinet approves bill to 'strengthen' SABC's finances, management

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Cabinet said the SABC Bill of 2020 would be made available for public comment and was the culmination of work done on previous broadcasting legislation.
Cabinet said the SABC Bill of 2020 would be made available for public comment and was the culmination of work done on previous broadcasting legislation.
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  • Cabinet approved the publication of the South African Broadcasting Corporation Bill of 2020 for public comment and consultation.
  • The bill will repeal the Broadcasting Act of 1999, with a view to improving revenue collections and governance for the broadcaster.
  • The bill proposes streamlining of the board of the SABC as well as measures to improve the collection of licences.

Cabinet said on Thursday it had approved a draft South African Broadcasting Corporation Bill during its Wednesday meeting, hoping this draft legislation would strengthen the financial, operational and governance position of the embattled public service broadcaster.

The Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown that has hit South Africa since last year did no favours to the already troubled SABC, as revenues were brought under immense pressure.

While advertising revenue remained strong last year, the SABC has been grappling with other financial challenges, including retrenchments and a turnaround plan to get the public service broadcaster back in fighting shape.

Cabinet said the SABC Bill of 2020 would be made available for public comment and was the culmination of work done on previous broadcasting legislation. The bill seeks to give the SABC more powers where it relates to collecting on TV licence fees and impose harsher sanctions on truants.

"Cabinet approved the publication of the SABC Bill of 2020 for public comment and consultation. Once passed into law, the bill will result in the repeal of the current Broadcasting Act of 1999. It seeks to strengthen the efficiency of the operations of the public broadcaster," the Cabinet statement said.

Cabinet said it was of the view that the bill would give the public broadcaster the capacity to improve its management and collective revenue more effectively, as opposed to asking the government for funding.

"The bill proposes, amongst other changes, the streamlining of the board of the SABC, which will strengthen its responsibilities and accountability. It also proposes reforms in the SABC's funding model and the TV licensing system," the statement said.

This past week the SABC went to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, where the authority granted the broadcaster permission to negotiate a must carry regime with MultiChoice for carrying SABC channels and content on its platform, as the SABC seeks revenue from this arrangement.

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