Just 24% of billed TV licences got paid as SABC posts R511m loss

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The SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has reported a R511 million loss in its financial year ending March 2020.

According to SABC’s 2019/20 annual report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, this was a 6 percent decline compared to the previous financial year, “but a 20 percent better performance against budget.”

Revenue decline

The embattled public broadcaster’s total revenue declined by 12 percent year-on-year to R5.7 billion. Reasons cited include a decrease in advertising spend and a delay in finalising commercial partnerships on digital platforms.

TV licence revenue also plunged by 18 percent to R791 million. SABC said the delayed use of debt collection agencies was the main cause.

This resulted in just 24 percent of licence fees billed being paid compared to 31 percent in the previous year.

“As part of an overall policy review, the SABC is currently finalising proposals to government on the future collection of a public broadcasting levy, taking into account differing public views on this issue as well as international best practice,” the broadcaster said in a statement.

Going concern doubts

The annual report states that SABC’s negative cash flows from operations amounted to a massive R1.2 billion.

However, this improved significantly following a R3.2 billion government bailout. SABC’s net current asset position is now R1.8 billion.

The broadcaster added, “It remains uncertain when the company will return to profitability and positive cash flows from operations.

“Together with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, these uncertainties cast significant doubt on the SABC’s ability to continue as a going concern. Various measures are in place and continue to be put in place to manage this risk.”

SABC is currently implementing a turnaround plan that partly involves retrenching staff. It announced last week that it had issued Section 189 notices to around 400 employees.

Employees held a protest at the company’s headquarters on Monday against the planned retrenchments.

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