The SABC reported a R411m net loss for the 2015/2016 financial year on Thursday, an increase from the previous year.
“I know some expected the losses to be in the billions. I am sorry to disappoint,” the group’s acting chief executive officer James Aguma told reporters.
In the 2014/2015 financial year, it reported a R395m loss.
Aguma attributed the current loss to the fact that the SABC had to cover events of national importance, including former president Nelson Mandela’s funeral, and the Rio Olympics.
Covering Mandela’s funeral cost a “handsome sum of money”. Reporting on such events provided a huge social return on investment, but a negative financial return.
Other factors contributing to the loss were that it received less than 3% of its funding from government, growth in post-retirement service costs, and the impact of tax adjustments arising from previous years.
He said the broadcaster’s annual salary increases have been above the norm. It used private sector wage increases as its benchmark.
“We are a very good employer,” Aguma said.
The auditor general gave the SABC’s financial statements a disclaimer in 2013. In the years since then, the financials improved to a qualification. In the current year, the SABC had a qualification relating to irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
He said the SABC plans to resolve this in the next year, by managing expenditure and improving revenue collection.
“It has been tough, especially on staff members. The audit report has a direct reputational impact on the board.
“There were internal problems that did not allow us to deal with fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the past year.”
Aguma said even when there is no revenue, the SABC must still broadcast.
“Despite this loss, we still have cash and have a net asset position. There is no creditor or employee who has not been paid,” he said.
The national broadcaster’s net asset position stood on R2.7bn.
On the loss, he said the SABC has to keep a focus on its mandate. “We have a provincial presence, report on governmental sports and in 11 languages. Whether it gives you revenue it does not matter, we just have to do it. We covered elections and it does not give revenue.”
He said because the SABC is a public broadcaster, it has a jobs mandate imposed by the state.
“We are not complaining about the mandates imposed on us by the state and Icasa.
“We must consider the social return, not just the economic return on investment.”