Civil society activists have strongly criticised the SABC's latest annual report for its apparent vagueness on crucial detail, writes Jocelyn Newmarch in Business Day.


The report covers the SABC's financial year which ended in March — before the suspension of its CEO Dali Mpofu and the political crisis enveloping the board.

 Kate Skinner, a spokesman for the Save Our SABC coalition, said the most glaring omission of the report is the lack of detail on how it is fulfilling its public mandate – its day-to-day obligations to the public and its central objective as a public broadcaster.

The Save Our SABC Coalition includes the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Treatment Action Campaign and other nongovernmental organisations including the Freedom of Expression Institute, the Media Monitoring Project, and the Media Institute of Southern Africa.

Skinner described the report as "very much a PR exercise" with no breakdown of big budget items.

She said little detail was provided on the R40,6m listed under "fruitless and wasteful expenditure" except that action was being taken. She asked why the R76m the SABC wasted by not showing programmes it had paid for was not included in this category .

Skinner said more detail was needed on the SABC's existing funding model, where public channels are supposed to be cross- subsidised by a public commercial wing. Yet the report does not indicate whether this model is viable or indeed whether cross-subsidisation was taking place.

The report also failed to indicate the percentage of the budget spent on programming, compared to the amount spent on administration — necessary to check whether the broadcaster was becoming top-heavy, she said.

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