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Execs axed over SABC+ ad kickbacks

  • Two SABC executives including the chief operating officer have been let go.
  • An investigation found the pair and one other guilty of agreeing to a secret deal with Discovery Digital.
  • The deal saw Discovery Digital receiving 7.5 percent of advertising revenue.

Last week the South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) relaunched SABC+ (again) under the new/old banner of SABC Plus. Said to be revamped, the main take away for many was an increase in advertising.

As it turns out, some folks were profiting off the ads that appeared on the SABC’s streaming platform. On Sunday, The Citizen reported that chief operating officer Ian Plaatjies and group executive for video entertainment Merlin Naicker had been fired.

The dismissal of the pair comes after an investigation into the failure to disclose a deal whereby Plaatjies and Naicker agreed to pay Discovery Digital 7.5 percent of the advertising revenue that aired on the platform. Discovery Digital manages the SABC’s streaming platform an annual fee of R35 million. The 7.5 percent revenue share was in addition to that fee. The pair were suspended in February.

A third SABC staffer was also implicated in the matter but, group executive for sales, Reginald Nxumalo resigned before he was suspended.

What makes this matter all the worse is that the trio had told the SABC that it would be receiving 100 percent of advertising revenue. The deal with Discovery Digital was only brought to light when head of legal Ntuthuzelo Vanara questioned a clause in the contract. At this point however, the deal had been signed.

“The SABC board of directors have resolved to terminate the employment contract of Ian Plaatjes, following a disciplinary process. The board has duly considered the findings and recommendations of the report by an independent chairperson and decided to release Ian Plaatjies from his duties as the SABC’s chief operating officer (COO) with immediate effect,” SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo told TVwithThinus.

This is bad news for the ailing broadcaster which is at risk of going into business rescue. The broadcaster has failed to turn a profit in nearly a decade and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon, especially with secretive deals such as these going on.

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