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SABC technically insolvent

November 10, 2023

By Chris Forrester

South Africa’s deputy communications minister Philly Mapulane has told the country’s parliament that public broadcaster SABC is not only technically insolvent but owes broadcasting transmission distributor Sentech more than Rand 700 million (about $35.5m) – around half of Sentech’s annual revenue.

SABC presented its financial plan to government for 2023-2024 on November 7th. The presentation was late by six months according to local reports.

The cash owed to Sentech is sufficient to risk the collapse of Sentech, the deputy minster told parliament. “[The debt] has the ability to collapse this entity if you consider that the revenue of Sentech is hovering around R1.4 billion,” he said.

SABC’s revenue for the 2022/2023 financial year was 7.9 per cent less than the previous year and a worrying 27 per cent less than its budget had anticipated. The broadcaster had reported a net loss in 2022/2023 of R1.1 billion.

SABC cited many reasons for the losses including South Africa’s regular ‘load shedding’ when electricity supply is cut, as well as its inability to monetise sports properties and other content, and South Africans’ reluctance to pay their television licence fees.

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