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SABC board games stall progress

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The SABC board has been dissolved for the second time in less than five years, slamming the breaks on looming telecommunications thresholds.

Trouble at the SABC means that certain important projects might have to stall. Pic:

Board trouble 
Crippling financial losses and a damning report by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications led to the dissolution of the board back in 2009, with the body no longer deemed able to fulfil its statutory duties.

"In essence, the Committee is of the view that the Board has failed to provide coherent leadership and to ensure proper corporate governance over the SABC," the report read.

It was a stinging indictment.

Barely five years later and the board was yet again dismantled, with an interim board now in place to keep things ticking in the organisation’s upper echelons.

President Jacob Zuma approved the interim board earlier this month following a string of resignations which left just two board active members - hardly enough to carry out its functions.

The top decision-makers at the nation’s public broadcaster had swivelled and liquefied in the proverbial boiling teacup that is the state broadcaster.

All this is taking place amid a telecoms threshold so close to fruition.

Digital migration 
For years now, South Africa has been working to meet the International Telecommunication Union’s 2015 deadline to move off an analogue television signal onto a digital platform. The SABC, as chief custodian of the public’s viewing, was supposed to be at the forefront of that process.

Local deadlines came and went. October 2012 was one such time at which the switch would have been made to digital terrestrial television, but this did not materialise.

What digital television means, essentially, is a change towards a platform which takes up much less bandwidth than the analogue format which has lingered locally for a bit too long. Less bandwidth would essentially mean equate to nine times as much information as is being carried right now, according to a handy explanation on Go Digital SA.

There now looms an impasse through which the public broadcaster must quickly navigate. A lot of time has been lost, even with a board that was at the helm for four years.

Among the chosen who have the unenviable task of steering the corporation are chairperson Zandile Tshabalala, her deputy Noluthando Gosa, Iraj Abedian, Vusumzi Mavuso, and chartered accountant Ronnie Lubisi (whose expertise we hope will direct matters well away from the horrors which plagued the 2009 board.

One of the tasks which will have to be overseen by the new lot is for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) to finally be given the go-ahead.

The board games must surely be over. The world has gone digital and so must we.