Minister defends bill on beleaguered SABC

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele. Picture: Armand Hough/Independent Newspapers

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele. Picture: Armand Hough/Independent Newspapers

Published Dec 20, 2023


Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele has come to the defence of the SABC Bill being processed by Parliament.

Gungubele said the bill was geared at addressing the challenges faced by the public broadcaster and ensuring its sustainability.

DA MP Natasha Mazzone had submitted a parliamentary question asking how the bill would resolve the SABC’s financial shortfalls.

Mazzone noted that the proposed legislation would mandate the minister and their finance counterpart with a new funding model, but not the board of directors.

In reply, Gungubele said: “One key aspect of the bill is to provide the SABC with greater flexibility in television content procurement that will enable it to compete more effectively and offer a wider range of entertainment options.

“Through the commercial subsidiary with exclusive commercial licence conditions, the SABC will be unencumbered from the rigid provisions of the Public Finance Management Act.”

The bill would allow the SABC to explore new avenues for content acquisition and delivery, he said. The SABC bill will enable the corporation to negotiate and secure high-quality content from local and international sources. “In offering a more diverse and appealing content line up, the SABC can attract a wider viewership.

“By offering a wider selection of channels, the SABC can better compete with other broadcasters and streaming platforms, ultimately enhancing its competitiveness in the industry. This will drive long-term profitability which is a key component of financial sustainability of the public broadcaster.”

He also said the SABC’s financial shortfalls would be resolved by introducing a new commercial board that will oversee the public broadcasters’s commercial activities and operations.

“It will play a major role in the SABC’s overall commercial success at a time when it requires significant, sustained commercial growth and income. It will also allow for the SABC board to provide input and make recommendations in regard to the new funding model.”

Funding for public media services remained the responsibility of the government and was the responsibility of Cabinet and Parliament when integrated into any legislative framework as it involves public funds, he said The bill has been published for comment. The deadline has been extended to January 16.

Cape Times