Salaries are the public broadcaster’s biggest cost driver, followed by signal distributor Sentech.
SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini has expressed confidence in the work of the leadership of the public broadcaster to bring stability and long-term financial security despite complaints from staff over impending job cuts.
On Tuesday, the SABC released its annual report for 2019/20 in which it indicated a net loss of R511 million, compared to the previous financial year which was R482.4 million.
The SABC also recorded a 12% revenue decline year-on-year, to R5.7 billion, which has mainly been attributed to a decrease in advertising spend across its platforms.
The financially troubled public broadcaster’s cash on hand was at R72 million at the end of the financial year, a R58m decline from the 2018/19 year.
With two years before the term of office of his board ends, Makhathini said work on reviving the SABC was well on track with focus on stabilising, sustaining and growing the broadcaster.
“During the stabilising phase, which began in 2017, the board engaged in such a tough process of dealing with legacy governance failures by implementing the recommendations of the public protector, the parliamentary ad hoc committee, the Special Investigating Unit report, the auditor-general as well as the SABC’s own forensic investigation,” Makhathini said.
He said management had been tasked with driving tough consequence management and dealing with irregular contractual and employment decisions, which he said was the first phase.
“The SABC is now in the second phase of long-term sustainability, as we expand our revenue generation base, cut costs, embed the turnaround, implement the new operating model and fulfil our public mandate,” he said.
He stressed that while it would not be enough, the restructuring process at the SABC would be necessary for the sustainability of the public broadcaster.
SABC workers have been staging lunchtime pickets as they voiced their opposition to the slashing of jobs.
Makhathini said salaries were the broadcaster’s biggest cost driver, followed by signal distributor Sentech. “Over the past five years Sentech has cost the SABC over R3.2 billion.
’’Historical policy and contractual terms have prejudiced the SABC, negatively impacting on its finances and making it more difficult for the public broadcaster to compete with more agile privately-owned broadcasters,” Makhathini said.
He said the SABC, the government and Sentech were engaged over the reduction of transmission costs, which he said was a critical part of the turnaround strategy.