Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The SABC's water is cholera free and its hair salon is popular with e.tv staffers: The fascinating - and sometimes funny - details from the SABC's latest annual report.

The only light coming from the SABC's latest 2015/16 financial report and its R411 million loss is that it's safely disposing of its flourescent lights that contain hazardous chemicals and mercury vapor.

That's little comfort to SABC staff and the public who are recoiling at its latest set of dismal results that saw the SABC's financial position worsen further, posting it's 6th consecutive qualified audit with another growing loss as its cash balance plunged precipitously below the R1 billion mark to R881 million.

While the SABC's financial report describes its controversial executive Hlaudi Motsoeneng as someone who has been "proven to be a leader of note", the reality is that Hlaudi Motsoeneng – whose salary ballooned further from R3.7 to R4.19 million – oversaw a period in which the SABC slid further back as the beleaguered SABC continues to lurch from crisis tot crisis.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng is now the best-paid single individual at the SABC.

The now-fired head of TV Verona Duwarkah pocketed R2.69 million, and the now-axed CEO Frans Matlala got R3.6 million for 9 months. 

The SABC report only states that he was placed on suspension and doesn't say why. James Aguma, chief financial officer, and now acting CEO, earned R3.62 million.

SABC chairperson Obert Maguvhe pocketed R637 000 – more than the R537 000 the disgraced former chairperson Ellen Tshabalala got in the previous financial year.

SABC audience share falls again, down to 48.8%
While the SABC's TV channels SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 attract audiences of 28.8 million, 26.9 million and 21 million viewers per week, the reality is that the SABC's average audience share fell yet again to 48.8%.

That's down from 57% in 2011/2012 and 53% in 2012/2013.

The SABC admits that it missed its target of 52% and blames "increased competition and changing audience content consumption patterns" for its falling share.

In radio the SABC radio stations managed an adult (listeners older than 15) audience share of only 69.9%, meaning that almost a third of people who can listen to one of the SABC’s radio stations don't want to.

The financial report interestingly doesn't cover the latest period during which Hlaudi Motsoeneng haphazardly introduced a 90% quota for local music needletime on its radio stations and a barrage of failed local TV content that saw viewers flee. 

This will still  negatively impact on both TV audience share and advertising income, the impact of which will only become evident in the 2016/2017 financials.

In the latest report, the SABC admits further that its "SABC online websites did not fare as expected and delivered an 11% year-on-year growth rate in page views" far below the 15% target and blames social media like Facebook and Twitter.

The auditor-general (AG) slammed the SABC for not having "adequate document management systems in place to identify irregular expenditure" and that the SABC "incurred expenditure in vain, which could have been avoided had reasonable care been exercised that were not included in fruitless and wasteful expenditure".

The SABC admits that "high levels of fee payment evasion by SABC licence holders" continues. As the SABC continues to spend millions to try and gather SABC TV licence income, the income from SABC TV licence collection fees continue to go down.

While the SABC struggles and blames expensive international sports rights, having to cover events of national importance it apparently can't budget for, and investments in technology to switch out analogue equipment for the loss, its already indicated that it plans to create and broadcast even more TV and radio channels in future while its having problems scheduling content on its existing channels that attract audiences.

A 1 001 direct complaints
The SABC's latest 143 page financial report is once again filled with interesting, and some unintentionally funny, nuggets.

The first factual lies occurs on page 11 where the SABC says its SABC News channel on MultiChoice's DStv channel 404 "broadcasts mainly in English,with African-language bulletins provided during the evening slots". 

The fact is the SABC canned all the bulletins in vernacular languages in this channel during the reporting period.

The SABC reports that when it conducted evacuation drills at its Auckland Park headquarters, "no injuries or fatalities were reported".

While the SABC says in its report that the tap water in buildings was tested monthly and found "algae and cholera free", it bisarrely pays Freshy Water to supply the SABC with "premium-quality drinking water".

Actress Michelle Botes left the SABC3 soap Isidingo in 2014 but the SABC still includes a publicity image of her character Cherel in its financial report with Barker Haines.

The SABC touts its SABC Beauty Salon, popular under "the production crew of Generations and Ashes to Ashes" (an e.tv drama).

The SABC got 1 001 direct complaints, mostly related to SABC TV licences and people angry over SABC scheduling.

The SABC did "noise, air and light surveys". It is addressing waste management and is addressing the removal of "hazardous chemicals, which for the SABC, is flourescent tubes which contain mercury vapor".