The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says it will ask government for a review of its budget for this financial year, due to an expected steep shortfall in revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The organisation told Parliament’s Communications Committee that it had been forced to displace a number of its programmes to accommodate programming of COVID-19 related broadcasts.

SABC GCEO Madoda Mxakwe says the company’s strategy was based on growing audiences through acquiring compelling content.

He says this has now been disrupted as companies cut advertising budgets.

“Many of our clients have withdrawn their advertising spend either to redirect those funds to assist within their efforts to curb the virus or because they are concerned about the return on their investments as they are not able to trade during this period. It’s within this background [that] we [are] going to submit to shareholder request to review our budget,” explains Mxakwe.

Applauded for coverage

Meanwhile, Members of Parliament have applauded the SABC for its role in the coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and for turning the company around.

Members of the Communications Committee, say the SABC has led the way in keeping the public informed about the virus.

This after the public broadcaster informed Parliament that it expects to pay a heavy price for these broadcasts, which are largely unfunded.

The corporation says it expects a revenue shortfall of more than R1.5 billion, mostly because of the displacement of programmes to make way for COVID-19 coverage. MPs were, however, very complimentary about the work the organisation has done.

DA MP, Phumzile van Damme says, “You have an important role to play in getting the message across to the people of SA about this virus. In particular, to those who don’t have access to DSTV and from what I’ve seen, you are doing a great job at that as well … these regular public service announcements on radio and on TV. Thank you for that good work.”