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Friday, 29 September 2023 19:09

SABC reports R1.3 billion loss in last financial year, Parliament hears.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has presented its 2022/23 Annual Report in Parliament on Friday with a net loss of over R1 billion – with revenue down nearly 8%.

The report notes that the SABC faced challenges from funding models and internal and external factors affecting financial results. However, the corporation achieved several significant milestones.

The SABC says the significant under performance of revenue can be attributed to a variety of internal and external factors including but not limited to the growth in audience ratings that did not meet expectations, the impact of analogue switch off and load shedding, the inability to successfully monetise sport properties and other content and the increasing TV License evasion rate.

"After seven (7) years of consistently improving net losses, the year under review unfortunately saw a significant regression. This is as a result of revenue that was 7.9% less than 2021/22 financial year and 27% less than budget. The SABC made a net loss of R1.13b. This translates to a R949m more than the previous financial year. The cash reserves consequently decreased by R709m (60%) as compared to the R300m recorded in the previous year," reads SABC's statement.

Despite the bleak results, the SABC maintained that it has been delivering on its mandate – and dispute the "challenges", continues to be a dominant force in the sector with millions of viewers and listeners.

It also noted the launch of its streaming app, SABC Plus, and the return of the METRO FM Music Awards as highlights during the year.

"While in its final year of implementation the SABC could report that nearly all the activities committed to in the Turnaround Strategy were implemented, the inability of the activities associated with revenue improvement and legislation to translate into improved financial results was a major setback," it said.

It said that the utilisation of the bailout funding continued to be rigidly managed within the set allocation criteria for content and capex investments.

The SABC said that due to the significant revenue gap that resulted in the increased net loss and the delayed financial benefit realisation of its turnaround strategy, the Auditor General of South Africa concluded that material uncertainty of the SABC's ability to maintain its Going Concern status exists and is so pervasive that a Disclaimer Opinion was issued.

"This is despite a 70% reduction in Audit findings over a 5-year period with significant improvement in financial controls. There are no audit qualifications remaining in 2022/23 financial year related to the preparation of and fair presentation of the financial statements and the internal control environment," it said.

"With the onboarding of the new Board, after the Corporation was without a Board for six months, the Board has prioritised the stabilisation of revenue generation and various interventions that have or are being implemented, "it said.

Reflecting on Cabinet's approval of the SBC Bill to be tabled in Parliament, the group said that it anticipates "imminent positive developments in the legislative environment" – and with this, confidence in "turning the corner towards financial sustainability and growth".

"The SABC is also excited about the opportunities SABC Plus holds, early successes with new content are yielding results and planning for the 2024 National Elections are on track."