The South Africapublic broadcaster has launched its new ‘Target Operating Model’, roadmap for its long-term sustainability. 

In taking a holistic view of its input costsmarket conditions and how it can meet audience needs, the SABC’s new Target Operating Model “is aimed at overhauling the SABC into a fit-for-purpose public broadcasting service that is financially sustainable, self-sufficient and appropriately capacitated to execute its mandate effectively”, the SABC explained in statement on Thursday. 

The model aims to assist SABC in implementing its overall Turnaround Strategy, which was drafted following the peak of its financial difficulties last year, when it resorted to requesting a government bailout to alleviate its ongoing debt crisis.  

Read more: Ongoing debt creates uncertain future for SABC 

It is also hoped that the model will assist the broadcaster in navigating through a time of economic uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on advertising revenue. In the statement, CEO Madoda Mxakwe alludes to the skills audit currently taking place at SABC, in which he states: 

“We fully acknowledge that this is a journey that requires level-headedness, collective consideration and cooperation. This process is aimed solely at ensuring the long-term existence of a resilient and sustainable public broadcaster that will continue to comprehensively and diligently serve millions of South Africans who rely on it for education, information and entertainment. We have an obligation to re-create an SABC that will outlive us, an SABC that will survive another 84 years and serve several generations to come.”  

As My Broadband investigates, a confidential report reveals that the public broadcaster will be reducing its salary bill by R700 million with the potential to “retrench hundreds of employees” as part of its cost-cutting measures. 

Director of Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), William Bird,  was quoted in the same article as saying: “With broadcasters saying they have lost up to 60% revenue, I really doubt the SABC will be able to operate and meet its public mandate conditions without serious cuts to their operations. 

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has previously expressed concerns about SABC’s retrenchment plans. But alongside the “unavoidable and urgent” strategic renewal initiative, the CWU has more recently raised concerns about the growing number of Covid-19 cases at the public broadcaster, after the SABC announced at the start of this month an additional six recent positive cases of COVID-19 across three different SABC offices. The CWU said that it will be engaging with SABC regarding their COVID-19 prevention policies. 

Header image: SABC offices in Sea Point, Cape Town. Credits: Zaian/All Creative Commons