In a written reply to DA MPL George Michalakis, Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams revealed yesterday that the SABC owed close to R250million to artists in royalties.
Michalakis called the state of affairs “an absolute disgrace”.
“I am planning on posing a follow-up question on how the SABC plans to pay back the artists who deserve compensation for their hard work,” he said.
The SABC owes nearly R126m to the SA Music Rights Organisation (Samro), which represents more than 100 composers in KZN.
Samro stakeholder relations officer advocate Nkateko Maluleke said it had communicated to its clients to expect a significant drop in their earnings.
“There are other streams of revenue for our clients, but the SABC represents a bigger portion of our income so we had to give them prior warning to expect a little less this month,” he said.
Maluleke said Samro was not panicking yet and was taking a “futuristic approach” to the situation by prioritising its long-standing relationship with the national broadcaster.
“There is no point in instituting legal action,” he said.
“We understand the SABC is in dire financial straits. We are more interested in working with them in terms of returning them to their former glory and to a space where they can pay our composers.”
In the reply, the minister also revealed the SABC owed the SA Music Performance Rights Association R104m, the Association of Independent Record Companies R8.8m, the Recording Industry of South Africa R3.3m and Composers, Authors and Publishers Association R6m.
Ndabeni-Abrahams said she had received assurances from the Treasury that the SABC would get interim financial relief by the end of the month.
SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu said: “The SABC has reported on numerous platforms that it is experiencing dire financial difficulties, with the corporation unable to meet its monthly financial obligations.
“Payment arrangements are being made with suppliers, service providers and creditors and we are proactively engaging with these stakeholders.”