CASH-strapped SABC is set to lay off staff as the multi-billion rand public broadcaster struggles to generate revenue.
Employees were sent an email on Thursday informing them of the looming job cuts.
According to the email seen by African Times, the negative portrayal of the organisation in the media, mainly attributed to former Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s controversial tenure, has affected the corporation’s cash flow forcing it to dip into its reserves.
“The SABC’s major sources of revenue are advertising revenue and sponsorships (85%) and TV licenses (12%) and we can confirm that these revenue streams are under pressure with the SABC now funding its activities from its reserves,” spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said in the email.
He said the utterances made by various individuals and organisations at the recently concluded Parliamentary Ad-hoc Committee into the SABC have negatively portrayed the public broadcaster.
This has had an adverse impact on its revenues in the form of payment of TV licenses, advertising spend and the withdrawal of strategic partners who were engaged to finance additional channels that the SABC intended to launch in preparation for the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).
The SABC has been in the spotlight in recent months following former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into the appointment of Motsoeneng and the subsequent court battles. It was again thrust into the spotlight before last year’s local government elections when Motsoeneng issued an irregular directive not to show images of service delivery protests.
That led to various protests and staff members complaining about editorial interference. Motsoeneng was subsequently removed from his position after a court ruled he was unfit to hold any position at the SABC.
Kganyago said that decision also contributed to the situation.
“The former COO, Mr Motsoeneng, was at an advanced stage of discussions with funders to generate additional revenue from strategic partnerships with provincial governments and the private sector to fund these additional channels. This project has been negatively compromised from October 2016 with these planned revenues not being realised. The sustainability of the current SABC News and Encore channels has also been jeopardized,” he added.
Sources within the SABC say the parastatal has been struggling to pay freelancers. One source has claimed that some contracts will not be renewed.
“Freelance contracts lapsing at the end of the month will not be renewed. People are going to lose their jobs and income,” said the source.
Another one said permanent staff were also in limbo as they did not know what criteria would be used to retrench people.
Despite the challenges faced, Kganyago maintained that the organisation would meet its mandate.
“Despite these challenges, the SABC will meet its obligations and continue to discharge its public service mandate of educating, entertaining and informing South Africans and other worldwide audiences,” he said.