The SABC is not there to make a profit. Rather, it’s a public broadcaster that serves the people, the corporation’s chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng said on Tuesday.
The controversial Motsoeneng, who has survived attempts by the public protector, the Democratic Alliance and the courts to have him dismissed from his position, was part of a large delegation from the department of communications to brief the parliamentary oversight committee on its annual performance plans.
Motsoeneng said the SABC lost more than R120m when it covered the funeral of the late president Nelson Mandela. “But for us it wasn’t a loss. It was a matter of the SABC fulfilling its mandate of serving the people.”
He said the SABC would apply to national treasury for an exemption, as its performance should not be based on profit.
In response to an ANC MP’s complaint that the SABC did not give enough coverage to the ANC, Motsoeneng said the SABC should mirror the democratic dispensation in South Africa where the ANC has a majority. “We will use the same representation to make sure there is fair coverage and that the ANC gets more time as the majority party.”
Earlier on Tuesday, communications minister Faith Muthambi, who was also part of the delegation, told MPs that the department’s R1,3bn budget was not going far enough to enable all entities to fulfil their respective mandates.
She said there were challenges of under-funding at communications regulator Icasa, the SABC, Media Development and Diversity Agency, the Film and Publication Board, and Brand South Africa.
“We are working tirelessly to review their funding models to ensure long-term financial viability of these institutions as they carry their mandates respectively,” added Muthambi.
She bemoaned the fact that public contributions towards the revenue of the SABC were still at less than 20%. “This has a profound impact on the nature and services provided by the SABC.”
Responding to a questions from MPs about the status of the suspended CEO Frans Matlala, SABC board member Aaron Tshidzumba said he couldn’t comment on it, as the matter was “sub judice”.
Matlala was suspended in November last year, reportedly because he had cooperated with national treasury’s investigation of the SABC chairman, Obert Mughave.