The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in Auckland Park. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - The Right2Know Campaign (R2K) on Thursday called for an urgent intervention to prevent a 'blackout' at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). 

The financially strained public broadcaster has gone on record saying a blackout was a probability amid struggles to pay its debt and staff.   

"We recognise the critical importance of the public broadcaster as the main source of information for the vast majority of South Africans who are mostly poor and marginalised. As such, the R2K is deeply concerned by the imminent possibility of an SABC blackout as a result of low cash flow and indebtedness," said R2K. 

The civil society group said the financial situation at the SABC was "unacceptable"  and was a result of "decades of under-funding and recent years of mismanagement and corruption".

"While we acknowledge the attempts to turn around these financial woes, it is clear that not enough has been done. It should go without saying that the current SABC is charged with a mandate to draw up and implement a sound turnaround strategy to resolve this long-standing problem. 

"We call for a turnaround strategy that addresses the systemic and long-standing problems including bloated top management and duplication of roles."

If the screens at the public broadcaster were to "go dark", it would be a violation of the rights of citizens to communicate as they would be deprived of their right of access to information, said R2K. 

"R2K is encouraged by the commitment shown by the Minister of Communication, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, to find an urgent solution to the immediate problem, including sourcing a bail-out from Treasury. However, we urge all parties to find a lasting solution out of the financial quagmire that does not include yet another call by an SOE for bail-outs from an already depleted public fiscus.

"We call on the Ministry, the current SABC Board and the other role-players to take the public into their confidence in constructing a turn-around strategy and a rescue package that ensures that all interests are taken into account. Civil society too stands ready to assist Our SABC," said R2K. 

African News Agency (ANA)