Cape Town – The SABC's chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng is telling South Africans that they "must pay TV licence".
The Western Cape High Court ordered the SABC at the end of 2014 to immediately suspend the famously matricless and highly controversial Motsoeneng but that has not happened. Instead, the SABC appointed the acting Motsoeneng permanently in the position of COO.
In what the SABC billed as the "first" in a new series of "quarterly media briefings" by the South African public broadcaster, Motsoeneng said people must pay their SABC TV licence “because you’re not paying the salary of personnel at this organisation” and that the money is used to produce content.
The SABC will be going on a national campaign to tell South Africans that they have to pay their SABC TV licences.
The SABC says that it wants to increase its local content and that it needs the revenue from SABC TV licences to create and channel more local TV content.
"People should understand you are not paying the salary of personnel at this organisation," said Motsoeneng. "We don't even touch that money.
"You are paying for content, you are paying for universal access.
"We also applaud those people who are paying TV licence. And they should carry on paying TV licence.
"By paying TV licence you are contributing to the public service mandate of the organisation. If you look our own programmes. We have different kinds of programmes. Some of those programmes are educational. Some are entertaining. Some are informing. So we must pay TV licence," said Motsoeneng.
"It is also important that SABC contribute to the growth of production houses. SABC contribute to the employment of the people in this country. But we don't want people in Gauteng only to benefit," said Motsoeneng.
As in 2009 the SABC is once again investigating the possibility of alternatives to the SABC TV licence fees, like collecting revenue from pay-TV providers like for instance MultiChoice, M-Net and On Digital Media (ODM), something they previously vehemently opposed.
R3.39bn in irregular expenditure
In October last year the SABC failed to tell parliament what exactly it did with R3.39bn over the past three years which is billed as "irregular expenditure" and which the Auditor General's (AG) office says wasn't spent properly – R900m of which was improperly spent in 2013/2014 alone.
In 2014 the SABC received its 4th consecutive annual qualified audit from the AG.
In 2014 the SABC told parliament that it wants to raise SABC TV licence fees in line with inflation. SABC TV licences currently brings in around R1bn for the public broadcaster per year.
In 2014 the Public Protector's final report into Motsoeneng found that he "should never have been appointed at the SABC", found that he lied and admitted to lying in a recorded interview about having a matric certificate, and implicated him in various instances of maladministration.
Motsoeneng's salary skyrocketed the past four years at the SABC – he is now paid R2.5m more per year than what he was in 2010 – an eight fold increase in four years.
'We cannot waste money anymore'
At the SABC's press briefing Veronah Duwarkah, the SABC's group executive for television said that "a big portion of our budgets are actually allocated to local content".
"More than 70% of our schedules are local. That includes news and sport in terms of the number of minutes that we broadcast.
"From a pricing point of view more than R1bn is spent only on local content. And I'm not talking about news and sports, there are more billions spent on that. The international content is a very small contingent. A couple of years ago, yes, we had a lot of content from overseas but we cannot waste money anymore," said Duwarkah.
At the SABC's press briefing the broadcaster admitted that the new Generations – The Legacy on SABC1 has much lower ratings than before it fired the entire principal cast and took the soap off the air for 2 months in 2014.
Motsoeneng also said that president Jacob Zuma deserves the excessive coverage on the SABC because he is the president of South Africa.
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