Amid intense pressure about its uncertain future, the SABC board defiantly released its 2007/2008 annual report on Friday, glossing over the long-running legal battle with Dali Mpofu, the suspended chief executive, instead claiming that the corporation had made strides in delivering on its public service mandate despite significant challenges, writes Edwin Naidu in the Sunday Independent.
"We have a five-year mandate and we are here to stay," said Gloria Serobe, the corporation's acting chairwoman, in her remarks to the media, ignoring the vote of no confidence in the board by the ANC and calls, since April, for its members to quit.
She said the SABC was ensuring nation-building through its South African and African content, increasing the number of historically disadvantaged individuals in production and making the organisation a preferred place of employment.
Serobe was standing in for Kanyisiwe Mkhonza, the chairwoman, who was overseas. She said the after-tax profit had grown by more than 70 percent.
Announcing the results at Auckland Park on Friday, Serobe said the board had inherited the SABC's strategic framework from the previous board. The corporation had made an operating profit and had seen commercial advertising revenue grow to R3,1 billion. But sponsorship, which amounted to R568 million, was down by 9 percent following the loss of the rights to broadcast Premier Soccer League matches.
Although the corporation appears to be in a healthy financial shape, with R165 million in the kitty, the SABC had to write off millions of rands in programming costs for programmes that it had bought but not screened. It also faces further trouble with legal threats from a number of organisations.
The annual report said R76-million had to be written off after programming obtained by the broadcaster was not shown within the licensed period. The SABC also made provision for losses of up to R41-million from debtors because of the tougher economic environment.
The annual report showed that the SABC also incurred expenditure during the year of R40,6-million that can be classified as "wasteful" in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, and the corporation was attempting to recover the amount.
Staff costs also went up because of the classification of freelance payments from general to staff expenses, a higher head count and higher salaries, in some cases in response to competition in the industry.
The corporation has begun a process to manage costs more effectively.
Owing to the implementation of a new accounting package, the corporation had to re-audit all expenses and look at more than 4Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000 projects on its books, but the process could not be finalised in time for inclusion in the financial results.
The auditors have therefore qualified the audit report, in that they were unable to audit the costs and amortisation of programme, film and sports rights.
"We were unable to find sufficient audit evidence to substantiate the cost of R1,5-billion and the accumulated amortisation related to the original programming," the auditors commented.
Click here to read the full report, posted on iol.co.za.