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SABC's poor TV buying caused problems

2013-02-06 14:35
 
Cape Town – The SABC's highest title holder now admits the way the South African public broadcaster bought programming for broadcast is "ridiculous" and says that one person is no longer responsible for deciding what the SABC buys, and then shows, on television.

At a hastily-convened press conference on Friday at the SABC's headquarters in Auckland Park the SABC chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane said that the SABC had just paid another R416m back of its government bailout of R1.47bn which the SABC got in 2009 in the form of a government guaranteed loan. The SABC still owes R230m.

Thami Ka Plaatjie, the SABC’s deputy chairperson, admitted on Friday that the SABC failed to meet all of the conditions of the government bailout.

The press conference follows after yet another resignation from the SABC board since current members took office in 2010. The SABC board has been marred by strife, shocking public in-fighting and accusations of corruption. Patricia Makhesha has become the seventh board member to suddenly quit.

Programming problems

Ngubane admitted that the shocking way in which the SABC acquired programming was part of the cause of the problems at the beleaguered broadcaster.

In 2009 the SABC hovered on the precipice of financial collapse.

Multiple investigations during the past three years uncovered rampant maladministration, corruption and financial mismanagement at the struggling South African broadcaster.

Sub-standard, inappropriate content

In terms of television programming for its three TV channels, the SABC for years continued to buy sub-standard and inappropriate international programming and signed terrible package deals forcing the broadcaster to take trash television which it simply kept paying for.

Meanwhile SABC executives, some not skilled or versed in international programming acquisition protocol – continued to jet to international buying markets – sometimes flying in luxurious first class – and picking up programming wholly unsuitable for the SABC while executives were wined and dined in exotic locales by sellers.

Besides sitting with bad TV shows, the broadcasting licensing periods of content deals of the SABC also lapsed – the window of time a broadcaster gets to start broadcasting the acquired episodes of a production – after which it forfeits the rights. This happened because of bad scheduling, ineptitude and mismanagement within SABC ranks.

Consensus

Ngubane said that purchase decisions can no longer be decided by one executive alone and that consensus from all executives is required.

"Now is the time for SABC to work very hard to make sure that we double our efforts or we triple our efforts," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC's acting chief operating officer.

"We now know that we have paid R400m. We don’t have that money in the bank anymore. We need to make sure that we generate money."

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