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South Africa: SABC Closes International Offices

As the SABC's financial woes continue to mount, the public broadcaster's latest cost-cutting exercise is to close down three of its 12 international bureaus. The SABC on Friday night confirmed that its offices in Jamaica, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Washington DC would be affected.

The move would be completed by September. SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said that the staff would be absorbed into other bureaus or brought back to South Africa. Bureaus in New York, Dakar, Lagos, Nairobi, Harare, Sao Paolo, London, Brussels and Beijing will remain operational.

In a statement, the SABC said the news and current affairs management had decided that it would be too expensive to continue the Jamaica and Washington operations. The closure comes roughly a month after the national broadcaster announced it was freezing all vacant posts owing to a R784-million budget deficit. This included scrapping tea, coffee, sugar and milk supplies to its low-level staffers.

This week the SABC was forced to assure the television industry that it would meet its contractual obligations for the year after concerns were expressed about the broadcaster's finances. The launch of SABC International in New York drew much criticism from local unions.

Earlier this year the Communications Worker's Union said the channel was only available to a few individuals, did not generate any revenue, and that some individuals had received abnormal salaries.The example cited was that a presenter/producer earned R3 800 a shift. But Kganyago on Friday night denied that some salaries were inflated, saying the payments were allowances for working at the bureaus. He said staff who were redeployed to other bureaus would continue receiving allowances.

Cape Argus

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