Sunday, July 23, 2017

Virtually destroyed SABC needs to get rid of parasitic agreement between the public broadcaster and Naspers' MultiChoice for sake of the South Africa's much-abused audiences, says SACP.

In a strongly-worded statement the South African Communist Party (SACP) says the "virtually destroyed" SABC needs to get rid of and end the highly controversial "parasitic agreement" between the struggling South African public broadcaster and Naspers' pay-TV platform MultiChoice running the DStv service.

The highly controversial agreement was signed by the SABC's now fired chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng for the SABC to provide the SABC Encore (DStv 156) and SABC News (DStv 404) channels to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

The SABC paid Hlaudi Motsoeneng a R11.4 million signing bonus from the millions paid to the SABC by MultiChoice.

Critics argue that the SABC gave the public broadcaster's content archives to MultiChoice; something the SABC denies, although the SABC told parliament earlier this year that it "sends a tape per day to MultiChoice".

The controversial MultiChoice SABC agreement is being reviewed. The SABC interim board chaired by Khanyisile Kweyama would like the agreement and SABC Encore and SABC News to continue.

The SACP says it wants to see a reversal of "the unhealthy commercialisation of the public broadcaster, which shifted SABC content focus away from those who most need and rely on its radio and TV content - the working class and poor majority of South Africans".

The SACP wants to see an end to "the years of wholesale looting under Hlaudi Motsoeneng – both equally destructive of the SABC's ability to provide programming of a quality South Africans need and deserve" and "thirdly, ‎to recover all the money that was looted or wasted from all those who were responsible".

The SACP says the SABC's interim board has made a good start in cleaning up the struggling and destroyed SABC but "simply lacks the resources to achieve even a fraction of the fix-it mandate set by parliament".

"When the interim board arrived, the SABC was virtually bankrupt and its audiences in rapid decline - and acting CEO James Aguma was part of the propaganda of lies to the contrary".

"James Aguma’s resignation this week as acting CEO of the SABC is welcome news for the corporation and for this country’s much-abused broadcasting audiences," says the SACP.

"It is particularly welcome for the working class and poor majority, for many of whom the public broadcaster remains the only source of information and entertainment. James Aguma jumped before a conclusion was reached – in the middle of a disciplinary hearing that clearly was not going his way."

"While much of the damage James Aguma formed part of driving at the SABC did to a once-healthy and publicly respected public institution appears to have been on the orders of Hlaudi Motsoeneng – himself recently sacked after virtually destroying the public broadcaster, but still exercising a toxic influence over the SABC through many misguided loyalists – James Aguma managed to do some entirely on his own."

"In March this year the SACP noted James Aguma’s personal responsibility (and possibly personal benefit?) for a contract for TV licence fee collections so ridiculously expensive that every cent collected was almost entirely paid out to the collectors."

"The SABC is well rid of him, and none too soon. But there may still be sting in James Aguma’s tail: speculation at the SABC is that he will be in court soon to attempt to get his disciplinary hearing accepted as “constructive dismissal” under labour law, entitling him to yet more of the SABC’s non-existent cash reserves."

"For years the SACP has demanded a complete clean-out of the SABC under successive boards, and over-paid, under-performing executives," says the SACP in its statement.