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SABC should be privatised, says DA

Staff Reporter

The Democratic Alliance on Thursday called for the public broadcaster to be privatised.

The Democratic Alliance on Thursday called for the public broadcaster to be privatised.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) had decided that to cut costs it would no longer be commissioning any new local content, DA spokesperson Niekie van den Berg said.

But the Television Industry Emergency Coalition (TVIEC) warned that this decision would effectively kill the local television industry, with 80 000 crew and cast losing their jobs, among other things.

The DA welcomed the SABC’s attempts at cost-cutting, but it should be remembered that the SABC’s almost R1-billion losses were largely as a result of internal financial mismanagement and mass fruitless and wasteful spending.

“An example of worrying trends at the SABC include the fact that, despite the corporation’s dismal performance and while being on paid suspension for most of the year, the three-times-suspended CEO Dali Mpofu received a R2,1-million bonus during 2008, 47,3% higher than the previous year’s R1,4-million.

“Mpofu’s salary was also increased by 19,7% to R4,5-million. He was also paid out more than R6,5-million for the remainder of this contract after being refused reinstatement,” Van den Berg said.

Another disconcerting fact was that the SABC’s biggest debtor was national and provincial government, which owed the SABC more than R300-million in advertising fees for airtime sales and outdoor broadcast ventures on both television and radio.

“The SABC cannot punish the local TV industry for its financial crisis, but should rather not have paid out bonuses to incompetent staff and collected monies owed by its debtors, the biggest of which is government.”

Together with the “failures” of Eskom, South African Airways and other public enterprises, the SABC’s meltdown was indicative of government’s failure to run its corporations effectively.

Non-privatised entities were prone to corruption as decision-making was made for political and personal gain, rather than economic reasons, as had been evident with the SABC.

“The SABC’s failure is not as a result of the recession, but the fact that it is run by politicians, many of whom have no real knowledge and expertise in the sector.”

The SABC’s competition, e.tv, had been able to make a profit out of broadcasting without benefiting from licence fees and having to face the same regulations as the SABC regarding local content and languages.

“There is no reason why the SABC can’t do the same,” Van den Berg said.—Sapa

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