Austerity measures to remain at NBC despite funding

25 October 2019 Author   NYASHA FRANCIS NYAUNGWA

Drastic cost-cutting measures introduced by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) last month will remain in place for now despite the public broadcaster receiving an additional funding of N$56 million in the midterm budget announced by the finance minister on Tuesday. 

The broadcaster, which is heavily underfunded according to its Chairman Sven Thieme, has since September been operating from 07h00 - 21h00, and all its indigenous news bulletins have been scrapped. 
The live broadcast of Parliamentary proceedings on NBC2 have been discontinued and are only being broadcast delayed and in a condensed edition the next day.
Thieme said the NBC would not be able to fully cover the upcoming presidential and National Assembly Elections, unless such production is fully financially supported.
The board chairperson said the N$56 million that the broadcaster received this week will not improve the desperate situation. 
“There is a short-funding of what has been requested,” Thieme said. “There is a clear plan on costs and income. The business has a need of about N$240 million from government and own income is about N$110 million which gives you N$350 million, but when you get only a portion of that then there is a problem.”
The respected businessman said there is need to reduce costs before the shareholder can reduce funding. 
“Our line minister is fighting for that but I don’t think he is getting the necessary support.”
Asked if the nbc will now resume to its normal broadcasting hours after Tuesday’s funding, Thieme said no.
“No. How can we, we are short-funded?”
He also said the broadcaster’s management cannot retrench staff without the approval from the shareholder. 
Nbc wants to retrench 156 employees to remain with 413 employees out of a staff complement of 569.
“We are very limited. We cannot go for retrenchments without the shareholder’s approval. The only thing we can terminate is our interns but unfortunately a lot of these temps are the ones doing a lot of the work so the whole thing needs to be realigned and restructured.”
The NBC chairman further said he is not sure if NBC will be able to cover the November Presidential and National Assembly elections. 
“I don’t know. We are short-funded by another N$44 million.
“As a Namibian who cares about this country, I know that I can save the nation over N$100 million, but due to no-decision making and short-sightedness of some we are wasting resources every single year. 
“If someone who cuts our budget comes up with a plan to tell me on how to do it, I am waiting for it. Where is the plan?  Our line minister is fully aligned but he is not getting the necessary support.” – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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