‘SABC needs a viable funding model urgently’

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The SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition says a viable financial funding model to provide more revenue for the SABC is needed urgently.

SOS says the new proposed SABC Bill which has been approved by Cabinet in order to ensure the organisation is financially sustainable and independent, is long overdue.

The Bill brings reforms to the existing funding model of the SABC, including changing the way TV licence fees are collected.

The SABC has been faced with cash flow challenges in recent years. It also received a government bail outs of about three-billion rand.

Appearing before Parliament last month, SABC Board chairperson, Khathutsheli Ramukumba, said unless the new Bill gets urgent approval, there is no guarantee that they cannot seek another bail out.

“It will assist with the viability of the SABC funding model. But having indicated, rather having engaged in the last meeting where it was indicated that bail still requires to go back to Cabinet and then find its way to Parliament and also noting the timelines for priority bills within the Parliamentary system having been passed. If that bill does not get processed on time, we may find ourselves in a situation whereby the discussion around a bail out is inevitable, So, I think it’s important to make that particular fact because so long as the funding model question is not resolved and where we are sitting as the SABC.”

In the same committee meeting, MPs wanted to know how the financial injection from government was used by the public broadcaster.

Chairperson of the committee, Boyce Maneli, “Members are interested in the bail out. And I think the bail out is not only looked from the point of rands and cents spent but it is how that would have helped the SABC on those areas that they said that these areas are addressed. This is how the institution will turn around.”

But SOS says a viable financial funding model to provide more revenue for the SABC is needed urgently. National Co-ordinator, Uyanda Siyotula, says the funding model is the number one problem.

“I think the major issue now is the funding model. The fact that the SABC does not have a workable funding model. We know that TV licences are not working. We have seen how much money the SABC has lost over the years. Recently Minister Mondli Gungubele reported that R44 billion has actually been lost in TV licences because people they do not want to pay. So now there must be actually a new model that enforces and gets people actually to pay for this public service just as they are paying for other public services they receive such as water and electricity.”

Siyotula also blamed the long delay in the appointment of the SABC Board as one of the factors that contributed to its financial woes.

“Now the board is very important in ensuring that there is financial sustainability, provides oversight to management, which is why now we actually have irregular expenditure. We have got all these other things. You know mismanagement that would have been avoided if the board was in place and effective. And there was oversight, the executives were accountable to a particular board within the SABC, we would have really been able to combat all these issues.”