SABC plans to cut 33% of staff – report

The South African Broadcasting Corporation could cut its staff count by up to 33% and close five offices as part of a turnaround plan, the Sunday Times reported.

Other interventions include dissolving SABC Sport and getting rid of 19 general manager posts.

The Sunday Times said it has trimmed its turnaround plan to gain support from the Treasury and the Department of Communications.

The paper said the plan will take effect in August, when group executives will present their plans on how they will reduce employee costs by 30%.

The SABC is facing a blackout due to its current financial situation. Last month, chief financial officer Yolandi van Biljon warned that a total broadcasting blackout – or “Day Zero” – was a strong possibility if major debtors stopped supporting the state broadcaster.

At the end of May, the broadcaster was forced to choose between paying salaries or municipal bills, opting to settle the former and incurring a R13.5-million debt to the City of Johannesburg.

Van Biljon then said last week that the broadcaster is likely to survive ‘Day Zero’ for the next three months.

The CFO said continual progress is being made in cutting costs and stabilising the group’s balance sheet.

“We are not out of the woods yet but we are making progress as far as improving our balance sheet,” said Van Biljon.

Meanwhile, Communications and Digital Technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said government agrees the SABC needs urgent financial assistance.

However, the minister was quick to point out that the turnaround strategy for the public broadcaster must first meet the requirements of National Treasury.

“The stability and financial viability of the SABC is in all our best interest. A turnaround strategy that passes the test is key for the funding of the public broadcaster.

“The SABC has been experiencing liquidity problems due to historic financial management issues and the rapidly rising costs of content. The turnaround strategy is expected to address the working capital dynamics, unnecessary spending and various instruments to ensure the sustainability and viability of the public broadcaster,” said the minister.

The turnaround strategy is expected to be finalised by September this year.

Read: SABC “safe” from blackout for the next three months

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SABC plans to cut 33% of staff – report