8411 2010.6.18 Flags and patriotism at the SABC, Auckland Park, Joburg. Picture: Cara Viereckl

Johannesburg - The National Treasury expects the troubled SABC to report decreased profit of nearly R22.3 million in the financial year ending this month.

Details of the public broadcaster’s financial state are contained in the estimates of national expenditure, released after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Budget.

The SABC’s projected profit of R22.3m is a massive decline from the R329m it posted in 2012/13.

In 2011/12, the public broadcaster’s profit was R343.5m while it reported a R129.3m loss in 2010/11.

According to the Treasury, SABC profits have decreased nearly 156 percent between 2010/11 and 2013/14. The SABC’s total revenue is expected to increase from about R6.87 billion in 2012/13 to R7.3bn by the end of March.

The dip in profit comes a few months before the Communications Department is scheduled to finalise the Public Service Broadcasting Bill, which among other things scraps SABC television licences and proposes funding from other sources.

The department wants to have the bill ready by March next year.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said the SABC admitted that its funding model needed to change. He would not comment on the broadcaster’s financial statements before the end of the financial year.

The Sunday Independent understands that talks between MultiChoice and the SABC for the public broadcaster’s 24-hour entertainment channel are ongoing, with the launch date expected to be announced after a deal is reached.

The SABC’s controversial acting chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng recently revealed that the deal between the SABC and MultiChoice is worth R1.2bn.

The SABC says its entertainment channel will be self-funded from the revenue it receives from MultiChoice.

MultiChoice’s DStv has been broadcasting the SABC’s 24-hour news channel since August last year.

A number of organisations under the Save Our SABC Coalition have threatened to report the broadcaster to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela or communications regulator Icasa for breaching its public service mandate as only a handful of people have access to DStv.

The Treasury has also allocated the SABC R1.95bn for its digital terrestrial television (DTT) until 2017. Another R265m is set aside for the broadcasting digital migration project for the SABC and state signal distributor Sentech. Of this, R195.1m is for the SABC’s digital library and a digital play-out centre.

Sentech has also been allocated R69.8m in 2014/15 to finalise the roll-out of DTT infrastructure.

The SABC insists it is ready to switch all its existing television channels to digital terrestrial television.

According to the Treasury, the SABC will have to make additional appointments to meet the requirements for DTT and its strategy to expand regional content and contribute to job creation.

Government has also allocated R1.5bn to the Universal Service and Access Fund to subsidise set-top boxes, antennas and installation for the digital migration project.

The funding will facilitate digital migration from analogue to digital TV by giving 676 000 subsidised digital set-top boxes to recipients by March next year. In the same period, 63 analogue transmitter sites across the country will be switched off.

Meanwhile, Communications Minister Yunus Carrim is in talks with the SABC board regarding the appointment of an acting chief executive following Lulama Mokhobo’s premature departure last month.

Kganyago said an announcement would be made after consultations were concluded.

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Sunday Independent