The SABC is facing financial troubles again. Because of course it is. It’s a company that relies on South African residents’ money to keep it afloat. What did you expect? It’s been this way for years too — (attempting to) force residents to pay for a TV licence and channels that have been rendered almost completely useless after the launch of streaming services within the country.
It’s no wonder that the broadcaster has been unable to meet its quota for ages. It’s no different in 2022. The SABC recently presented its financial troubles to a parliament – the headline being: SABC’s revenue is 27% below budget (R1 billion) for the year to date, according to Yolande van Biljon, SABC CFO.
Whose fault is it anyway?
The SABC’s presentation projects a “de-risked” net loss of R608 million, up until March 2023 according to TechCentral. That’s obviously… not good. It looks far worse when you take the SABC’s estimated profits into account – of which it is expected to cross R64 million.
The SABC points towards the lower number of TV licences being paid and the overall fewer viewers on its channels for the projected loss. A loss of viewers has also affected the broadcaster’s ability to secure advertising for its channels.
There are also underlying problems at the broadcaster’s HQ. It originally expected to save some money from analogue switch-off, though it failed to budget for its higher distribution costs which ate into those savings. The newly rebranded SABC+ is also partly at fault for its current position. A delay in billing carriage licence fees for the service’s channels is costing it money.
Dark days ahead
During its presentation, the broadcaster described the situation as “very dim”. The SABC’s plans to fix its troubles have all been put on ice. It said that it “may not yield any positive returns for the corporation in the 2023 financial year”. It went on to say that “downsizing the business by halting non-critical capital spend and some operating expenditure will be required in the short term”.
We can’t be too sure what this means for the broadcaster exactly. We can be sure that it’s not looking great for SABC right now. We could see a bigger push to get the country to pay for TV licences, though that’ll pan out the same way it always has – with the SABC losing money. Perhaps a bigger focus on its newly unveiled rewards scheme? If that were to happen, it could still take quite some time before anything changes for the beleaguered broadcaster.