As SABC continues to navigate its ongoing financial crisis, does it really face a so-called “blackout”?

With the initial announcement that the South African public broadcaster, SABC, is facing an ongoing financial crisis, it has been suggested that a broadcasting blackout is likely to occur. An inability to maintain infrastructure and pay utility bills has fuelled this possibility. Yet, Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services, Stella Ndabeni- Abrahams, has since claimed that a blackout will not take place.

Rather, Ndabeni-Abrahams proposes that the government will not allow the public broadcaster to go off air. “There is no way we can let the SABC go for a blackout. It has to serve its purpose and it will continue to serve it.”

Over time, however, SABC have been critical of being underfunded by the government, which is arguably a contributing factor to their ongoing financial crisis. The public broadcaster receives approximately 3% of funding from the government, with the remaining funding sourced from TV license fees, advertising, sponsorship and commercial partnerships. Yet, these additional sources of funding have also seen a decline in revenue, which further adds to its sustainability concerns.

What is more, City Press reports that trade unions are concerned that state institutions and local municipalities are ‘no longer generating enough income to pay salaries.’

Government Bailout

Allegedly, the decision to grant the 3.2 billion Rand government bailout submitted by SABC last month is dependent upon negotiations with other state-owned enterprises (SOEs), who are simultaneously requesting additional financial support.

…the public’s right to have a well-funded and democratically run public broadcaster is crucial for democracy…

As Business Live conveys, ‘the public’s right to have a well-funded and democratically run public broadcaster is crucial for democracy, and therefore the SABC should be guaranteed an improved level of government funding to ensure it can carry out its role as a public broadcaster.’

At present, however, SABC is still waiting on the 3.2 billion Rand government bailout to alleviate their ongoing debt, which will allow them to deal with outstanding payments and secure employee salaries. No further comment has been made regarding how much financial assistance they may receive, if at all, and uncertainty over how they planned to pay staff salaries at the end of June, as well as their long-term sustainability, still remains.

More updates to follow.

Watch Stella Ndabeni- Abrahams comment for SABC News:

Header Image: Header Image: SABC Western Cape. Credit: Richard Tanswell/Creative Commons