SABC expects revenue shortfall of R1.5bn
Johannesburg - The SABC is projecting a shortfall of R1.5 billion in revenue in the 2020/21 financial year as it already feels the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This emerged when the top brass of the public broadcaster briefed the communications portfolio committee on its annual performance plan and budget on Tuesday night.
Board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini said the SABC had had to change its normal programmes to make way and create space for the government to communicate and ensure that the public received updates from ministers on the pandemic.
"We lost advertising revenue and we could not do what we normally do to generate what we are expected to generate.
"As a result we anticipate that we will have a shortfall of roughly R1.5bn and this is as a result of us giving airtime as the SABC to increase public awareness.
"This is the time we were meant to be paid for and this is what we were to do as SABC. When talk of a R1.5bn shortfall it is as a result of us playing a role of the public broadcaster to increase the level of awareness when it comes to the issue of Covid-19."
SABC chief executive Madoda Mxakwe confirmed there was a huge drop in their revenue due to the pandemic, and that would lead to the need to review the budget.
He also said advertisers have cut their budgets for this financial year and that has put the SABC in a difficult position.
"Many of our clients have withdrawn their advertising spend either to redirect those funds to assist with their efforts to curb the virus or because they are concerned about return on investment as they are not able to trade during this period," Mxakwe said.
"It is within this background chairperson that we are going to submit to the shareholder a request to review our budget, " Mxakwe said.
He described the projected R1.5bn shortfall as "a very conservative number."
Mxakwe said despite the challenges the SABC would ensure it pursued various forms of revenue.
Makhathini said out of 139 cases that they had to deal with, they were left with only five.
These emanate from the Public Protector report, Special Investigating Unit and SABC-own forensic investigations.
"We have made great progress in that area," he said.
Makhathini also the public broadcaster has filled all critical vacancies and now has 51% women representation in leadership positions.
He told the MPs the R3.2bn bailout has been used for its intended purposes.
"That money has been used according to what we requested for," Makhathini said, emphasising the bailout was not spent on salaries.
Part of the money was spent to procure content, maintenance of infrastructure and settling debts.
"As we stand we don't owe anybody. We settled all debts other than arrangement with Sentech."