Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele has staunchly defended the SABC Bill currently undergoing parliamentary processes, asserting that its primary objective is to address challenges faced by the public broadcaster and ensure its long-term sustainability.

The defense came in response to a parliamentary question posed by DA MP Natasha Mazzone, who sought clarification on how the bill would alleviate the SABC’s financial shortfalls. Mazzone raised concerns about the proposed legislation, which places the responsibility for a new funding model on the minister and their finance counterpart, rather than the board of directors.

Minister Gungubele emphasized a key aspect of the bill, stating, “One key aspect of the bill is to provide the SABC with greater flexibility in television content procurement that will enable it to compete more effectively and offer a wider range of entertainment options.” He added that through a commercial subsidiary with exclusive commercial license conditions, the SABC would gain flexibility free from the rigid provisions of the Public Finance Management Act.

The bill aims to empower the SABC to explore new avenues for content acquisition and delivery, allowing negotiations for high-quality content from both local and international sources. Minister Gungubele highlighted that this approach would enable the SABC to attract a broader viewership by offering a more diverse and appealing content lineup. Moreover, the bill is expected to enhance the public broadcaster’s competitiveness in the industry by allowing it to better compete with other broadcasters and streaming platforms, ultimately driving long-term profitability.

To address financial shortfalls, Minister Gungubele disclosed plans to introduce a new commercial board responsible for overseeing the SABC’s commercial activities and operations. This board would play a pivotal role in the SABC’s commercial success, supporting sustained commercial growth and income. Additionally, the minister noted that the SABC board would provide input and recommendations regarding the new funding model.

Minister Gungubele clarified that funding for public media services remains the government’s responsibility and is subject to Cabinet and Parliament decisions. The bill is currently open for public comment, with the deadline extended to January 16.

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