SABC troubles add to a rising list of state finance problems

SABC troubles add to a rising list of state finance problems

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)’s organizational and financial problems will come to the fore once again on Tuesday as the broadcaster updates Parliament on its flailing fortunes.

Its woes may seem to be recent, but the public service broadcaster’s missteps date to more than a decade ago.

The Parliament’s Communications Portfolio Committee is scheduled to get a two-day briefing from a SABC delegation starting this Tuesday on its turnaround strategy.

With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing the government to reprioritize limited financial resources, malignant state-owned entities (SOEs) can no longer breathe billions of dollars in financial assistance, including the public service broadcast.

South African National Editors’ Forum member and broadcast expert Kate Skinner said, while the editorial affairs of the SABC have improved significantly since the days of Motsoeneng’s editorial interference, walking off the financial troubles of the broadcaster would be a colossal task.

SABC ‘s issue was no different from other SOE’s. That is a leadership challenge. Perhaps, where other SOEs need to access state resources and involve party-political interests, the SABC’s contestation is special, because it is also a strategic body in society, “Langalanga said.

Langalanga said the Broadcasting Act allows governance structure, but the proof is in the implementation and the state would need to reinforce the Parliament ‘s role in oversight for any further financial assistance to work as intended.

“There’s a argument to be made for a far leaner broadcaster but there’s bound to be a union pushback.”