SABC says it could make R1.5b profit – if only public paid TV licences

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The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has said it would have made about R1.5 billion in profit in the 2018/2019 financial year – if only the public had paid their TV licences.

The troubled state broadcaster made the revelation in its annual report presented to Parliament on Tuesday.

It instead posted a loss of R482 million. It said this wouldn’t have been the case if South Africans paid their TV licences at the same rate as the British pay their BBC licences.

Only 31% pay

SABC revealed that only 31 percent of South Africans pay their licences, an evasion rate of 69 percent.

This translates to about 2.9 million out of 9.4 million licence holders making an effort to pay “in part or in full,” it said.

In contrast, 93 percent of UK citizens pay their licences, giving the BBC a firm and much-needed revenue base.

SABC said it collected R968m in TV licence revenue in 2018/2019, which came down to R852 after factoring in collection costs.

If 93 percent of South Africans paid, SABC would have earned around R2 billion in profit. This would have offset the R482 million loss, leaving a profit of R1.5 billion, it said.

SABC’s R2.1 billion bailout

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams announced earlier this month that SABC would get a R2.1 billion bailout to stay afloat.

The state broadcaster had requested for R3.2 billion, but only got R2.1 billion because it had met only five of eight conditions set by Treasury, she said.

The conditions it had met included preparing 12 to 18-month cash flow projections, developing a turnaround strategy, and investigating why it had failed to implement previous turnaround plans.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said SABC failed to meet one condition – developing “a comprehensive private sector participation strategy.”

SABC has experienced years of financial difficulties, including incurring R5.2 billion in irregular expenditure in 2018/2019. It also obtained a qualified audit opinion.

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