Independent media analysts are fairly muted in their opinion of Nomsa Chabeli’s appointment as the new CEO of the SABC, but all agree she has a unenviable job on her hands.
Chabeli will take on the difficult role of leading the public broadcaster with immediate effect, TechCentral reported on Monday.
In a statement, the public broadcaster’s board said Chabeli has the required experience, which includes a stint at MultiChoice Group, where she was marketing director for SuperSport and DStv. She has also worked in roles at Brand South Africa, Edcon and, most recently, MTN South Africa.
Chabeli takes over at the SABC as it veers into a fresh financial crisis. She replaces Madoda Mxakwe, who left in June at the end of his five-year contract.
SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition national coordinator Uyanda Siyotula said she hopes Chabeli will be able to restabilise the SABC and ensure that as a cornerstone of democracy, it plays a crucial role in promoting diversity and social cohesion, and providing credible news and information.
Siyotula said Chabeli will need to protect the public broadcaster from growing threats to its independence in the run-up to the 2024 elections.
“She joins the SABC at a time of a massive financial crisis, to provide strategic direction, drive revenue generation and assume overall management of the public broadcaster.”
‘Drowning in debt’
“Even though Chabeli has significant experience within the communications sector, the majority of her experience has been in marketing roles, and she has not had a CEO role before. She is now going to be leading an organisation that is drowning in debt and is losing audiences due to the government’s premature switch-off of the analogue signal in five provinces,” Siyotula said.
“Chabeli’s immediate priorities should be to reinvigorate the SABC through efficient management of its finances and the development of new revenue streams and optimisation of existing ones for a more financially viable SABC. However, the massive delays in government finalising the audio-visual content policy and its failure to develop a viable funding model for the SABC makes it difficult to turn the financial situation around.
“Parliament is currently entertaining an SABC Bill that does not contain a new and viable finding model for the SABC,” she said.
“SOS will work tirelessly to support Ms Chabeli and the SABC Board since, more than likely, we have similar goals in mind: making sure that South Africa’s national broadcaster remains robust and effective for the country’s citizens,” Siyotula added.
Media Monitoring Africa director William Bird said: “It could be a bold choice to appoint someone who has not been a CEO previously, but given the complexity and challenges the SABC brings, it is surprising. We have to hope that Chabeli is able to rise to the extensive challenges.”
And South African National Editors’ Forum executive director Reggy Moalusi said: “The SABC is a key institution for South Africa and plays an important role in our constitutional democracy. The media is faced by several challenges, such as retrenchments, hence we hope Nomsa’s leadership will be key in averting this.” — © 2023 NewsCentral Media