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SABC blames pay-TV growth for failures

2013-04-26 13:32
Cape Town – In its third-quarter report presented to parliament on Tuesday, SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo blames the growth in pay-TV in South Africa for the beleaguered South African public broadcaster's ongoing failure to deliver on most of its targets.

Mokhobo - accompanied by Hlaudi Motsoeneng who is back as acting chief operating officer (COO) after being removed from the position by the previous SABC board - was in parliament on Tuesday to present yet another bleak third-quarter report as well as another three year corporate plan.

Makhobo blamed the growth in pay-TV uptake in South Africa and the ongoing and increasing fragmentation of the viewing audience who are getting more choices and TV channels to watch, for the SABC's failure to deliver on targets.

Pay-TV fuelling audience fragmentation

Mokhobo said a more competitive environment and the growth in subscription television is fuelling audience fragmentation and that the SABC's situation has been worsened by delays in procuring new content.

The SABC continues to lose TV viewers, especially in the higher LSM brackets of upper income viewers, those which advertisers pay a premium to try and reach.

Furthermore the SABC failed to maintain an average TV audience of 60% which is the previous target which was set, and only managed 53% average viewing. The SABC failed to launch three new TV channels last year including a new 24-hour news channel and the SABC Sport channel.

Overshot expenditure again

Mokhobo told parliament that the SABC had fallen short on revenue targets and had also overshot expenditure targets.

For the current financial year the SABC has only met 15 out of the 25 key performance targets set.

"The SABC continues to strive to achieve the targets set and has intensified the focus on the corporation's turnaround initiatives," Mokhobo told parliament.

Officials from the auditor-general's office blasted the SABC's 2013 to 2016 corporate plan, telling parliament that 84% of targets were not well-defined or verifiable. Officials said that 76% of the SABC's targets were not specific and can't be measured.

The AG's office said this gave an error rate of above the 50% limit meaning that half of what the SABC wants to do can't be measured. This will force the auditor-general to issue an adverse opinion or disclaimer if an audit was done on the SABC's latest three year corporate plan.

A new low

The past four years has been dismal for the SABC. The suffering public broadcaster has been constantly lurching from the one corporate, executive and board room scandal to the next, corruption and charges of corruption, and forced to take a government bail-out of R1.4bn in the form of a guaranteed loan after the SABC came to the brink of financial collapse in 2009.

The SABC has failed to meet several of the agreed-upon targets, deadlines and requirements under which the bailout was given and continues to miss targets.

The broadcaster plummeted to a new low last month when the entire SABC board resigned en masse and was replaced by yet another interim SABC board. Jackie Motsepe, the SABC's former general manager of international content left the broadcaster at the end of last year.

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