Struggling NBC pulls the plug

10 September 2019 | Economics

STAFF REPORTER

In an effort to contain costs, the financially crippled public broadcaster, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), yesterday announced a host of austerity measures, which includes removing indigenous news content from its screens.

The new measures may also impact the number of staff needed to carry out its revised operations. The NBC board resolved to implement a number of measures as of today, while describing the financial situation as critical.

Among the new measures, the broadcast hours of NBC1 will be reduced to 07:00-21:00 daily, while the main English news bulletin will only air once a day at 20:00. The live broadcasts of parliamentary proceedings will be discontinued on NBC2, while there will be a delayed broadcast the following day.

The broadcaster also announced it will abolish its movie, educational, sport and entertainment channels.

“Staff travel from duty stations to assignments will be limited and all foreign travels, unless paid for in full for man-hours and all related costs by the initiating entity, will be suspended,” board chair Sven Thieme announced, while adding that board director fees have already been discontinued.

“No live broadcasts will take place, unless paid for in full for man-hours and all related costs by the initiating entity.”

The austerity measures come as the state broadcaster, along with other media, prepares to roll out election coverage ahead of the November polls.

“The current situation also risks limitations in the coverage of the upcoming presidential and National Assembly elections, unless this production is fully supported,” Thieme said.

According to Thieme, the board and management have tried their best to keep the business afloat. In the past four years, NBC has managed to grow its revenue from N$90 million to N$116 million.

He said the total subsidy received from government between April and August this year was N$73.8 million, against a requested N$100 million, leaving a shortfall of N$26.2 million. “The magnitude is severe and resulted in us getting to where we are.”

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