CFO Yolande van Biljon says SABC’s profitability illustrates the potential for financial self-sustainability

The embattled broadcaster reported a monthly profit for April 2021 for the first time in five years.

The SABC has made a monthly profit of R43 million in April 2021 for the first time in five years. CFO Yolande van Biljon says that the profitability illustrates that the broadcaster can be financially self-sustainable and will be able to strengthen its balance sheet over time.

“We will be able to raise funding on the back of our balance sheet strength, for our long-term capital plan as well as our content investment plans, for example,” Yolande adds.

Furthermore, she explains that SABC will be able to keep up with the rapid changes in consumption behaviour and technology. “We are also in a better position to make additional investments in the creativity industry, with a longer-term vision, to improve supplier development, learning and skills development of our employees, and create opportunities for young people in general.”

She adds that, because of this, the broadcaster will be able to execute its mandate without being a burden or a risk to the fiscus, but rather have the ability to give back.

The results come off the back of a turnaround plan Yolande has been implementing at the SABC. “The turnaround plan was designed to ensure that we once again become the leading, credible voice and face of the nation and the continent through focused interventions around four key pillars of governance and financial sustainability, human capital, content and platforms, as well as transmission and digital migration.”

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SABC is now 20 months into the 36-month turnaround journey, and 81 percent of its planned activities have already been concluded. Yolande explains that it is “probably reasonable” to also expect to see the fruits of their labour in the financial performance, even though it is still early days.

She adds that the SABC is looking at various activities that will play an important role towards sustainable revenue growth, including:

  • fresh and compelling content that will lead to audience growth
  • revenue generation models that are responsive to the business, trading conditions and clients’ needs and expectations
  • monetising content over multiple platforms and beyond
  • research and the application of the outcomes from that to understand its audiences and position its content offering
  • various enhancements to TvLic collection mechanisms, particularly accessibility
  • changes to legislation and regulation to reflect the world we operate in
  • continued efforts in reducing our cost base, including the disposal of non-core asset
  • the continued pursuit of strategic partnerships

Yolande explains that SABC has revised its sales models and is more competitive, more integrated and more client-centric. Its advertising revenue for the month of April was R15.5 million above budget, while sponsorship revenue was R25.9 million above budget.

She adds that SABC has also improved its communication efforts both internally and externally, and there has been close collaboration between business units like sales and the platforms they are selling.

“Our board and executive management leadership have played a key role in the progress made, with difficult but necessary decisions taken to ensure the long-term sustainability of the SABC,” Yolande says. “This leadership and the initiatives it has championed have led to a more motivated and energised team with very clear objectives to work towards.”