The SABC is close to a total blackout: CEO

The SABC is potentially facing a total broadcasting blackout because of spiraling debt woes and lack of relief funding, the Sunday Times reports.

SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe told the Sunday paper that the public broadcaster cannot pay its creditors and while the company’s application for a R6.8 billion bailout was approved, the funds have not yet arrived.

National Treasury agreed to provide the SABC with interim financial relief in March, to prevent the broadcaster from collapsing. It was declared technically insolvent at the end of January 2019.

If it is unable to secure sufficient funding, the SABC will be forced to cut its national broadcast due to the inability to continue operations, the Sunday Times said.

“We never had a blackout before, but if the funding doesn’t come soon the possibility of a blackout is imminent,” Mxakwe said.

According to the report, the minister of communications said that government funding to help relieve state-owned enterprises would only be available from September, and a committee has been established to discuss the importance of providing a bailout to the SABC.

The SABC is currently supported through a government guarantee, which allows it to apply for loans through commercial banks despite its precarious financial position.

Mxakwe added that the SABC is also conducting internal investigations into the irregular promotion or appointment of 30 senior managers.

In addition to an inflated salary cost and allegations of mismanagement and corruption, the SABC has also noted an industry-wide decrease in advertising over the past 24 months, further straining the financial stability of the public broadcaster.

The public broadcaster reportedly needs R600 million a month to operate, but only generates R380 million in revenue.

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently appointed eight new board members to fill the vacancies on the SABC board, giving the new members a mandate to secure the sustainability of the broadcaster.

According to statistics revealed by the SABC in October,  the group billed R3.378 billion in TV Licences, but only pulled in revenue of R941 million – indicating a 27.8% compliance level.

Read: SABC to get a bailout

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The SABC is close to a total blackout: CEO