DUAL commercial and public funding in public service broadcasters does not work because inevitably the bottom line becomes the biggest consideration and takes precedence over providing relevant local content, broadcast expert Ruth Zanker said, writes Chantelle Benjamin in Business Day.

Funding for the cash-strapped SABC has become a hotly debated topic following the publication of the draft Public Service Broadcasting Bill, which proposed moving away from licence fees towards alternative funding such as a 1% tax and broadcast licence fees, while still placing some reliance on advertising.

Some SABC stakeholders have expressed concern that greater reliance on the government could equate to greater interference by the government. The government funds only 3% of the SABC, which derives more than 80% of its income from commercial revenue and the remainder from TV licence fees, making the organisation vulnerable in an economic downturn.

Zanker told Business Day yesterday that increasing pressure from the New Zealand government for public service broadcaster Television New Zealand (TVNZ) to perform commercially was threatening its future. Zanker is head of research and a senior lecturer at the New Zealand Broadcast School and is founding chair of the Children’s Television Foundation which helps fund local television for children.

The emphasis on the bottom line sees less local content and more cheap imports.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.