Picture: KABELO MOKOENA/SOWETAN
Picture: KABELO MOKOENA/SOWETAN

The SABC board is moving to stabilise the public broadcaster’s leadership team as it tries to deal with its crippling financial and management crisis.

The broadcaster announced on Friday that it has appointed Sylvia Tladi as acting COO with immediate effect. The post is key in the development of a turnaround strategy that would bring SABC into good financial stead in the long term.

The organisation is technically insolvent. Its falling revenue means it cannot service debt of almost R2bn, and it is on the brink of collapse. It has requested a R3.2bn government guarantee to stay afloat and to pay off some of its debt, but its bid for funding has so far been unsuccessful, largely due to its failure to meet some of the Treasury’s conditions.

Tladi takes over from Craig van Rooyen who had been the acting COO for just over three months after the dismissal of Chris Maroleng earlier in 2019.  Van Rooyen cited personal and family reasons for his departure.

“This appointment is in line with ensuring business continuity and Ms Tladi is best suited to act, while the organisation finalises the process of appointing a permanent COO,” the public broadcaster said in a statement.

Tladi joined the organisation in 2004, as manager for business accounts TV licences and became the compliance manager in 2011.

In 2012 she was appointed in an acting capacity as head of TV licences and was formally appointed in the role the following year. According to the statement, in this role Tladi’s main focus was on revenue generation through the collection of TV licence fees, as well as managing the complete TV licence value chain and implementing key business strategies to optimise funding for the delivery of the SABC’s public mandate.

But the public broadcaster, which has been dogged by an acute management crisis and a lot of negative publicity, has struggled over the years to improve the collection of TV licence fees, which has contributed to its current financial crisis.

It is heavily reliant on advertising and revenue from licence fees to stay afloat.It receives 85% of its revenue from advertising, sponsorships and other commercial partnerships, 3% from the government and 12% from TV licence fees.

It has mainly attributed its losses over the years to declining advertising revenue across all platforms, coupled with deteriorating TV licence fee collection. The broadcaster has also complained that it is underfunded by government.

The SABC recorded an unaudited loss of R483m in the 2018/2019 financial year. A year earlier it incurred a loss of R622m. Over the past decade it has made a profit in only three years, from 2011 to 2013.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za