South Africa: SABC 'Spending 10 Percent On Local Content'


The SABC spends less than 40% of its budget to put content on screens, an independent producer has charged. The TV production industry, which relies on the SABC for most of its work, has been owed money for more than six months and new programmes are not being commissioned. In protest, independent producers staged a symbolic hanging outside the SABC's offices in Auckland Park last week.

Marc Schwinges, of the South African Screen Federation, said according to his interpretation of the SABC's 2008 annual report, just 38% of the broadcaster's expenditure went towards content and the costs associated with it. This expenditure includes signal distribution, licensing of content, sports rights, news broadcasts and staff employed in the content hub and in the newsrooms, as well as money spent on local content -- all matters which are the SABC's core business, Schwinges said.

According to his calculation, 10%- 12% of the SABC's budget goes directly towards local content.

Schwinges said he had attended a financial presentation in June given by the SABC's chief financial officer, Robin Nicholson. It showed that 10% of the SABC's expenditure went directly to local content. "So what is the rest spent on? The largest amount goes to the staff who are running this huge bureaucracy," he said.

He said about 80,000 people relied on the TV production industry for work. Because the industry was so reliant on the SABC, about 60,000 people would be directly affected by the broadcaster's cash flow crisis, Schwinges said. According to the 2008 annual report, the SABC spent R2,7bn on programme, film and sports rights in total. This includes R39m spent on "work in progress".

(source : 2009 Business Day)