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Media Centre  |  Articles

SABC managers underpaid for ‘turnaround’, says Motsoeneng

Setumo Stone, Business Day, 29 January 2015

CONTROVERSIAL South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, whose qualifications came under scrutiny after it emerged he did not have matric, says he could earn more if he were working for a different organisation.

Mr Motsoeneng was speaking on the sidelines of a media briefing on Wednesday where the SABC sought to correct the "wrong perception" that TV licence fees were being used to pay salaries rather than on production of local content.
Despite his "irregular" salary increases, which pushed his annual pay from R1.5m to R2.4m in one year, according to the public protector, Mr Motsoeneng said he and his senior management were "underpaid" because they had found the SABC in bad shape and had turned it around.

However, the SABC has lost a lucrative contract to broadcast the football matches for national teams including Bafana Bafana, which last year were scooped up by pay-TV newcomer Siyaya TV, which is majority owned by the Bakgatla ba Kgafela tribe in Rustenburg.

The subject of Siyaya coming up on Wednesday irritated Mr Motsoeneng. "I do not want to talk about Siyaya," he said. "We have a relationship with Safa (the South African Football Association) and we have a team talking to them. When we talk with Safa we do not mention Siyaya."
SABC head of sales Anton Heunis said the public broadcaster had a hybrid funding model of commercial ventures and licence fees. Subsidies from the government accounted for far less than 3% of its budget.

Chief financial officer James Aguma said in the year to March 2013 the SABC had collected up to R980m in TV licence fees. It was complex to determine how many people were not paying their fees, he said, as the SABC had a database of up to 10-million licence holders.

He said the broadcaster was investigating alternatives to licence fees, including collecting revenue from pay-TV operators and collecting the fees as part of municipal rates. Government subsidies for unemployed TV licence holders were also being considered.
SABC head of news Jimi Matthews said the perception that the SABC was biased towards the African National Congress was not supported by facts.

Those who were unhappy with the SABC’s coverage were allowed to complain to the broadcast authorities but this had not been happening. "The perception does not hold up. We have been cleared on numerous occasions to accusations of bias."
Mr Motsoeneng said it was "correct" that President Jacob Zuma was getting more coverage on the SABC. "He is the president of the country and there is no way that he can be ignored…. When the president talks, everything that he does affects all of us," he said.

SABC head of television Verona Duwarkah said the performance of soapie Generations had flagged because of changes to the cast.