SABC in tremendous trouble – Plans to close 5 offices and cut 33% of staff

The SABC plans to close 5 offices, cut a third of its staff, and reduce management by 37% to turn the ailing company around.

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

This is according to the Sunday Times, which said it has trimmed its turnaround plan to gain support from the Treasury and the Department of Communications.

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

SABC at war with communications minister

Last week the City Press reported that a hostile relationship has developed between the SABC and Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams over the turnaround plan.

According to the report Ndabeni-Abrahams questioned the viability of the SABC’s strategy to turn around its struggling business, stating that the broadcaster’s strategy does not meet the ministry’s funding requirements.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said the SABC needed help to develop a turnaround strategy which would not result in the company coming back in the next 3-5 years and asking for another bailout.

SABC acting COO Craig van Rooyen countered the minister’s statements, stating that the turnaround strategy is approved by the SABC board and does not require Treasury’s approval.

Day Zero fears

The SABC’s financial situation is dire, and without a bailout from the government, the state broadcaster may be forced off air.

Last month, SABC CFO Yolandi van Biljon warned that a total broadcasting blackout – or “Day Zero” – was a dangerous 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.

Things have reportedly improved for the SABC, however, with Van Biljon stating recently that there is no anticipation of Day Zero at the public broadcaster for the next three months.

This stability was achieved by cutting costs and improving the balance sheet of the company, although Van Biljon warned that they were not out of the woods yet.

The SABC has reiterated on multiple occasions that it urgently needs a loan guarantee from the government to make its business sustainable, with Day Zero remaining a real possibility in the near future.

Now read: SABC at war with Communications Minister

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SABC in tremendous trouble – Plans to close 5 offices and cut 33% of staff