South Africa: SABC Fails to Pay Two Key Foreign Suppliers

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The financial crisis at SABC continues to worsen with the news emerging that it had failed to pay two important international suppliers, the BBC and Sony. The Chair of the Board Kanyi Makonza resigned after a Board meeting to address the financial crisis (see People below).

According to a senior SABC staff member, the corporation owes R500,000 to Sony and R125,000 to the BBC. The amounts are evidently owed for content that was bought but not paid for. The staff member declined to be named as supply contracts are confidential.

However, he said these discrepancies should be seen as a relatively minor matter as the SABC "has bigger issues to deal with". In the case of Sony, he said, a remittance had been made, but it had not been recorded. The money for the BBC had been owing for only six weeks, he said. "Out of 120 foreign suppliers, the SABC is in dispute with only two," he said.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said relationships with suppliers were "very sensitive".

"We are not going to divulge buying or acquiring content in any way. We don't want the opposition to be aware (of SABC strategy)."

On 2 June, the SABC also said that it had made an agreement with a body representing independent producers after a protracted delay in paying the producers. As much as R58m might be owed to producers. Some threatened recently to withhold content, including popular soap operas such as Isidingo, because of non-payment.