JOHANNESBURG — The South African Broadcasting Corp. (SABC) plans to institute sweeping cost-saving cuts in staff and programs that could result in the loss of some 1,400 jobs, the pubcaster announced Mon-day.
Final details of the bloodletting are to be thrashed out with media unions in the next few weeks, the corporation said.
Three recognized unions at the SABC responded by saying they would fight the axings and demand that the proposals be subjected to independent assessment.
The cuts are recommended by U.S.-based management consultant McKinsey, which since October has been investigating ways to trim the service and make it more efficient.
The cutbacks would save the SABC around 450 million rand ($101 million) in the next two years, the corporation said.
Last year, the SABC took a loss of $13.5 million, having made a profit of $22.5 million in 1995.
Corporation execs blame the losses on the fact that the SABC has been mandated by the Independent Broad-casting Authority to fulfill its role as a public broadcaster by broadcasting in all 11 official languages, a wildly ex-pensive demand.
Among the jobs to be axed are those of the 80-strong National Symphony Orchestra, the SABC said.
SABC spokesman Enoch Sithole said no final decision would be made on the cutbacks until consensus was reached between management and industry unions.
Ready to restructure
Major units of the SABC that will be affected by the cost-cutting exercise include “Good Morning South Africa,” SABC’s breakfast show, which will be restructured to exclude live shows; the news department, which will be restructured to exclude magazine and religious programs while retaining news and current affairs; and the cor-poration’s flagship radio station, SAFM, which will be restructured over three years to reduce running costs.