Namibia: NBC Debt Reaches Record High of N$242 Million

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The Namibia Broadcasting Corporation has accumulated debts of N$242 million, of which N$35,2 million is operational debt. Announcing the budget for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in Parliament last week, Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said cost-cutting measures such as closing down some regional offices and reducing broadcasting hours did not help much to bring costs down.

Although the national broadcaster has seven television crews positioned in the country, only 15 cameras are available - nine for news and six for programmes. The NBC will only receive N$62,6 million from State coffers this financial year, which is N$200 000 less than last year. It raised N$22 million through television licence fees in 2006.

This year's budget allocation will not enable the NBC to realise goals such as giving staff their first salary increase in three years. "Due to its precarious financial position, the NBC may not be able to screen update programmes, movies, comedies and soapies," Nandi-Ndaitwah warned. "The NBC will soon be forced to rely on archive material, which is no longer subject to copyright." The corporation might also have to do away with live television coverage of events such as the Budget speech of the Finance Minister, which cost N$51,889 last month.

"Unless some measures are taken to relieve the NBC of its debt like increasing the Government subsidy to enable debt servicing or Government taking over to ring-fence the debt, we should not expect the NBC to effectively fulfil its national mandate," the Minister warned.

The Namibian Windhoek, April 25, 2007