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News Room

SABC Wants To Charge You To Use Your Cellphone

Sherryn de Vos
Have you heard the latest hairbrained idea from South Africa’s wildcard, SABC? If not, have a look at the device fee as well as others here!
SABC have seemed to find themselves in a total jam financially, and have resorted to grasping at straws to try and pull themselves out of it! One of the straws seems to be your back pocket! The latest announcement has sent the South African public reeling in sheer dismay at how low the state-owned enterprise can stoop! It has been no secret that the state-owned media giant has found themselves in dire straits over the last few years and the situation is simply becoming worse! Who would have thought that they would be battling though? Their ex-top dog, Hlaudi Motsoeneng's salary was only hiked up to a cool R 4 197 000 in September last year. That's pretty standard for a pay hike for a failing organisation right? Now they find themselves broke, desperate and teetering on the brink of corporate anarchy!

Their Solution? Robbing South African's Blind!

The SABC have simply decided to turn back to old fashioned extortion of the public to recoup some of its lost revenue. Their idea, therefore, is to start charging "TV Licences" on any other device that someone might watch something on. Mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and any other device that you would like to watch some form of media on, has received a target directly on them. The shock announcement came on Wednesday, 10 May, from the acting CEO of SABC, James Aguma. He proposed this to the portfolio committee during the strategy meeting for the 2016/2017 financial year. This is coming from the same man who wanted to pay an extra bonus to Motsoeneng for brokering a dodgy deal between the SABC and DSTV. Seemingly pulling ideas out of the hat, another recommendation was made to request DSTV to collect unpaid TV licence fees.

A Series Of Deliberately Unfortunate Events

SABC has received a number of direct hits over the last few years, mostly due to their poor decision making. These include the following:
  • Audience numbers have absolutely plummeted
  • Advertisers are running for the hills
  • Top execs are walking away with huge chunks of total revenue
  • Radio stations Metro FM, 5FM and GoodHope FM, and television channel SABC 3 being the most impacted
But, what led them to this point? In a series of very poor judgements from the ex-CEO and management, several decisions have led the SABC to where they are now:
  • The 90% local quota was local but not so lekker. The broadcaster took a beating financially, as advertisers pulled their funding out quicker than the stations could churn up some new local music.
  • AKA and Jack Parow-weary audiences started turning over to more variety. The SABC didn't seem to care at all that the audience cannot listen to the same song twice in one hour. (Disclaimer, we love AKA and Jack Parow, just not ALL DAY).
  • Illegal, fraudulent contracts and business dealings
  • The SABC, when questioned, did not know how many employees with criminal records it had employed

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Looking At The Horrific Figures 

Not only did the broadcaster get themselves into this mess, through poor decisions, bribery, mismanagement and nepotism, but also the plundering of funding. Let's take a closer look: Motsoeneng's Salary:
  • Basic Salary: R2 555 000
  • 13th cheque and other commissions: R213 000
  • Expenses and other allowances: R945 000
  • Contributions to pension fund, medical aid: R485 000
  • Total remuneration for the 2015/16 financial year: R 4 197 000
Losses In Financial Years:
  • R411 million loss in 2016 financial year
  • R394 million in 2015 financial year
Tenders And Payments:
  • Payments without a contract in place: R40.9-million (compared with R13.4-million in 2015)
  • Procurement processes not followed: R16.2-million (down from R62.9-million)
  • No original tax certificate at date of award: R142.3-million (down from R308.9-million); and
  • Inadequate monitoring of contracts / split orders: R225.9-million (up from just R822 000)
90% Local Only Broadcasting Losses:
  • R29-million on radio
  • R183-million on television
Consulting Fees:
  • R80 million
Improper Recruitment Where Processes Were Not Followed:
  • R19 million
Material Losses Due To Unauthorised, Fruitless, And Wasteful (UAFW) Expenditure:
  • R92 million
Total Employee And Director Compensation:
  • R3.2-billion out of a R7.9-billion total revenue
Total Cost To Collect Revenue:
  • R1 Billion!

What Are You Paying For?

Not only are you being forced to pay a TV Licence every year, but a chunk of your monthly tax is going to the state-owned enterprise! TV Licences are currently R265 for the application and R336 annually. Should you fail to pay this, you will receive a 10% penalty fee. It is said that the SABC's cash reserves are down to  R174-million, from more than R1-billion in 2015. The SABC have since approached the government for yet another bailout, which will, yes, be funded by your tax.
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