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Communications minister, Treasury to debate SABC funding request

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Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo is expected to meet finance counterpart Malusi Gigaba this week over a funding request made by the SABC to the National Treasury.

Dlodlo hinted last week that such a meeting was likely to take place, after she appeared before the communications portfolio committee.

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Minister of Communications Ayanda Dlodlo Picture: Supplied

But she is keeping the amount requested under wraps.

“I will reveal the figure after our discussions. It will be done this week, or on Tuesday or Wednesday next week,” Dlodlo said last week when pushed to disclose the amount requested to bail out the public broadcaster.

The document that was sent to her office by the SABC apparently had some gaps, which necessitated reworking before being sent to the National Treasury.

An apparent glaring omission was the funding required to enable the SABC to move from analogue to digital.

“They did all the work but overlooked the fact that they did not make any contingency plans for that move. I then asked them to take back the document because it had not properly taken into account the cost of the migration,” Dlodlo said.

“We have worked on that and it has now been finalised. The document will now be taken to Treasury to request whatever funds will assist."

Another possibility, Dlodlo said, could be an arrangement for a government-backed guarantee.

She gave an assurance that the funding request would not affect the service delivery budget that has already been committed in the fiscus.

There were fears the budget could be reprioritised to divert funds from service delivery and used instead to bail out the ailing SABC.

Last week, the SABC told Parliament that its finances were “not looking so good”.

Acting chief executive Tseliso Ralitabo told parliamentarians that the total revenue for the fourth quarter in 2016-17 was R1.6 billion, which was down by R353 million. This was 20% decline compared with the same quarter the previous year.

Ralitabo also said the SABC's performance in the financial year that ended in March showed an operating loss of R509m.

While the SABC has started a process to fill vacant top posts, Dlodlo is still contemplating bringing in a “caretaker” to act as the group chief executive.

“I have not discarded the possibility of bringing in someone, even from another state-owned enterprise, just to hold the fort,” Dlodlo said.

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