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Pending legislation could hurt SABC's revenue

Politics
Cape Town - The SABC has warned Parliament that two pieces of legislation could cost it more than R2 billion.

The public broadcaster said on Monday in a revised corporate plan submitted in Parliament that the National Liquor Amendment Bill and unhealthy foods legislation would have severe financial consequences for it.

“Government is contemplating the implementation of two pieces of legislation that would have a dramatic impact not only on the economy, and the advertising industry as a whole, but on the SABC in particular,” it said.

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It said despite trying to get back on its feet, following massive losses over the past few years, the SABC was faced with two bills that would effectively take hundreds of millions of rand away from it.

The National Liquor Bill seeks to ban the advertising of alcohol in the media.

The unhealthy foods legislation places restrictions on the advertising of unhealthy foods on media platforms.

In its corporate plan, the SABC said if the two bills were approved by Parliament, this would be a huge blow to the public broadcaster.

“The negative financial impact on the SABC, should both pieces of legislation be implemented, is R857million (in liquor adverts) and R1.35bn (in unhealthy foods) per annum,” said the SABC.

It said because of its large dependence on advertising, it would suffer huge financial losses.

The SABC said the Liquor Bill proposed a ban on alcohol advertising between 6am and 10pm on its platforms.

It said the same thing applied to the unhealthy foods legislation, with the ban on certain products between 6am and 10pm.

It was reported recently that the SABC was in dire financial straits, and required a bailout of R3bn from the National Treasury.

But this was denied by Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, who said there was a task team looking at the financial situation of the public broadcaster.

She said there had been no discussions on the financial bailout of the SABC.

She said the task team, from the Treasury, Communications Department, and the SABC, would report soon on the stability plan for the SABC.

The SABC’s finances were said to be so dire it has been unable to pay its service providers.

Eight years ago, the SABC was in the red and it took the intervention of the Treasury, which gave it a bailout of R1.4bn.

It received a loan from Nedbank and was able to recover.

However, its finances are in dire straits again, with talks of another bailout by the fiscus, despite denials by Dlodlo.

The unions at the SABC are also up in arms, claiming they have not been informed about the true state of the finances.

They blamed management for the poor financial state of the corporation and said workers must not be sacrificed over management’s mistakes.

This followed threats of retrenchments if its financial situation did not improve.

Political Bureau

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