SABC closes 5 intl bureaus

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pretoria - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has begun shutting down operations at five of its international news bureaus as it continues to scale down its operations in key African and international countries.

The broadcaster will close its bureaus in Beijing, Dakar, Brussels, Sao Paulo and one of the two offices in New York.

The closing of the bureaus began on Friday while all closures will be fully completed by the end of the year. The SABC has already closed its offices in Jamaica and Kinshasa.

However, the broadcaster will continue to have correspondents in Harare in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, the United Kingdom as well as the United Nations in New York.

The SABC's interim board chairperson, Irene Charnley, said the broadcaster's continued presence in these countries would ensure that it could continue to deliver diverse and relevant African and international news and current affairs to its audiences.

"These operations will constantly be evaluated to ensure that they fulfill this mandate cost effectively," said Charnley.

She added that while South African correspondents would continue their London, New York and Harare operations, the SABC would contract locally based reporters from Kenya and Nigeria to file reports from these countries.

According to the board, the closure of the offices was decided on after careful consideration of the broadcaster's mandate and the need to ensure that it brings its costs in line with its revenue.

The approved budget for bureaus for this year was under R37 million. But Charnley explained that if the news bureaus had continued, this spending was projected to have been R60 million in excess of budget.

"With the closures, including the costs related to shutting these down, we will save a minimum of just over R7 million," she said.