SABC management highlights funding as biggest challenge to fulfil public mandate

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The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says one of its biggest challenges is acquiring sufficient funds to fulfil its public mandate.

The organisation says it is repositioning itself as the number one broadcaster in the country and on the continent.

Following a difficult restructuring process, top management says the SABC is in a much better financial position compared to previous years.

It says the public broadcaster is still the number one source of information, education and entertainment for millions of South Africans.

Members of SABC management gathered in Cape Town on Tuesday night to celebrate the organisation’s 85th birthday anniversary and meet with some important stakeholders.

The SABC’s Group Executive for Corporate Affairs and Marketing, Gugu Ntuli, says the public broadcaster also plays a crucial role in using sport to foster social cohesion.

“We have decided within the Western Cape to really focus on the work that the SABC has done to promote sport in this particular part of the country, particularly in key sports like rugby, cricket, football and of course women’s’ sport, and so as the public broadcaster this is something that we want to celebrate and we want to continue to work with the population of the Western Cape to ensure that sport is continued for the next 85 years to come,” says Ntuli.

Meanwhile, the SABC says it will continue to play an important role in promoting social cohesion and broadcasting content in all the country’s official languages.

Hundreds of employees were retrenched earlier this year as the organisation said it was under financial constraint.

The SABC’s Regional Operations Manager for the Western Cape, Kenneth Makatees, says funding to fulfil the public broadcaster’s mandate also remains a challenge.

“The funding that comes from Government is actually a small percentage of what the SABC’s income is and as was pointed out, a very small percentage of people in South Africa actually pay their licences and I think the responsibility of people out there to pay the TV licences. What you are getting back, 18 radio stations, five television channels and social media platforms and the amount and the kind of work we are doing is unparalleled in this country, it has to funded and the biggest proportion of funding comes from the commercial market.”

Strong partnerships with stakeholders

Strong partnerships with stakeholders have been emphasised to help the SABC to fulfil its public mandate without losing its editorial independence.

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis says the SABC plays an important role in promoting social cohesion and broadcasting content in all the country’s official languages, despite its financial challenges.

“There can be no quit-pro-quo for journalism. Journalism is a very important job in our society. It has a very important role to play in holding governments to account including ours, the government that I am the leader of and so the SABC must do that work without fear or favour.”

SABC Board Chair Bongumusa Makhathini addressed delegates at the SABC 85th birthday celebrations in August: