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20 May 2009

SOS Update: SABC financial crisis deepens, nominations for the SABC board, SOS research.

This received yesterday from the Save our SABC Campaign (edited by SASFED). 

As I am sure you have all seen the financial crisis at the SABC is deepening. There have been a flurry of articles over the weekend and also yesterday. 

The Mail and Guardian is claiming that the problems lie with Snuki Zikalala's international news empire i.e. Snuki incurred huge costs by setting up news bureaux all over the world to gather news and to comment on international issues from an African perspective. The problem was that material was broadcast on an obscure satellite platform and never had an audience beyond a few thousand. No advertisers were prepared to touch the channel and so there were huge costs and no revenue. 

Jocelyn Newmarch's article in the Weekender points to a number of problems including the fact that the SABC had to give back substantial money to advertisers because they hadn't scheduled the programmes correctly and advertisers were correctly insisting on particular slots. In a follow-up article yesterday in Business Day she points to problems including the SABC's masssive consulting fees, bloated management structures and its buying of inappropriate programming eventually never screened. She points out that in fact advertising revenues have not dipped over the last few months, in fact they have risen overall in comparison to last year. The SABC has been using this as a major excuse for its deficit. She claims that the losses are due to managerial incompetence.

In the meantime independent producers have not been paid. They are owed approximately R35m (Note from SASFED: Latest figures appear larger).Also, staff salary increases have not been paid. These were negotiated as part of a three year agreement. Bemawu is considering taking the SABC to court. CWU is considering taking the SABC to the CCMA. In the meantime the independent producers have been meeting to discuss their options. They met yesterday late afternoon. They will also be meeting with the Department of Communications today. I will keep you updated on all developments. It seems major demonstrations are now be on the cards.

Please see below for some web addresses of relevant articles:

http://www.mg.co.za/article/2009-05-15-how-snuki-sank-the-sabc

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=3015&art_id=vn20090516073905282C129629

http://www.businessday.co.za/weekender/article.aspx?ID=BD4A1000712

In terms of our discussions around nominations for the Board(removed comment to SOS group).The plan is to hold a working group meeting on either the 25th or 26th of May next week to nail this down. We will keep you all updated. In the meantime I hope you are all strongly encouraging excellent, experienced people to apply for the SABC GCEO position. The deadline for applications is the end of this month. 

Further, SOS is now embarking on its research programme to further strengthen its Civil Society Discussion Paper on the SABC. 

(Additional content removed).


Kate Skinner

Campaign Coordinator - Save our SABC

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