Thursday, December 1, 2022

'A very dim picture': Struggling SABC projects another massive R608 million loss in 2023.

by Thinus Ferreira

After initially projecting a modest profit in 2023, South Africa's public broadcaster has suddenly switched to "a very dim picture" and is now forecasting yet another massive loss of R608 million, as the government warns that 2023 is the final year the SABC will get bailout money.

The SABC which is sitting with no appointed board, is swinging to yet another projected massive loss of R608 million for its 2022/2023 year, with the country's government that cabinet is working on new legislation to make up for the struggling broadcaster's funding gap.

Yolande van Biljon, SABC chief financial officer, told parliament this week that the public broadcaster's initial projection of a profit of R64 million by the end of March 2023 as part of its "bullish" corporate plan it drew up in February this year, is turning into a projected massive loss of R608 million.

According to the SABC's latest shared forecast, the projected R608 million loss will be three times bigger than the net loss of R201 million the SABC racked up for its 2021/2022 financial year.

Yolande van Biljon says the huge loss the SABC is now expected to rack up by the time its current financial year ends by 31 March 2023 is "the consistent underperformance in our advertising revenue as well as SABC TV Licence revenue which has consistently not lived up to the expectation".

"In the TV Licence case, it's largely attributed to the situation in the greater economy, and with classic advertising and sponsorships and issues around that."  The SABC has 238 critical job positions which are vacant.

"Yes, our forecast does predict a very dim picture," Yolande van Biljon said.

Philly Mapulane, deputy minister of South Africa's department of communications and digital technologies, told parliament's portfolio committee on communications and digital technology this week that 2023 will be the last year that the SABC is getting any bailout money and that the government is working on a new bill to fund the financial gap in the SABC's public broadcasting mandate.

"We are in the final stages of finalising the SABC bill that will be coming before the committee, hopefully to be tabled as soon as cabinet has finalised it."

He said that the SABC "has a public mandate but also commercial activities. And the public mandate in our view is not sufficiently and adequately funded. The bill will seek to ensure that the public mandate is sufficiently funded from the fiscus and to separate it from its commercial activities so that the SABC can sustain itself."

"Next year is going to important for the entity because it's going to be the last year that the SABC will be receiving a bailout. So it's the last year of funding from the fiscus for the bailout. So it's an important year for the SABC in terms of its turnaround plan," Philly Mapulane said.