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New SABC boss faces mountain of obstacles

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-01-18 00:10:18.0
SABC headquarters Auckland Park. File photo.
Image by: Tyrone Arthur © Business Day

The appointment of Lulama Mokhobo as group CEO at the SABC has been widely welcomed.

The Times Editorial: In all likelihood the reaction is informed by huge relief that a permanent CEO has been found for the beleaguered public broadcaster.

Mokhobo takes over from acting CEO Phil Molefe, who had taken over from his acting predecessor, Robin Nicholson.

It appears that, for many of the incumbents, being the head of the broadcaster was akin to being given a poisoned chalice.

Many of the former CEOs seemingly fell foul of the board to which they reported and had to deal with intense scrutiny and political pressure.

The shambles at the SABC is well documented - caused by a hapless board incapable of providing leadership and pulling the broadcaster out of its financial mess, and poor morale among SABC staff.

The number of CEOs who have left the Johannesburg head office with a hefty payout and a negligible legacy is testimony to the considerable pressures of the top job.

The departures have not been restricted to the executive corner office. As the broadcaster sank into disarray over the years, key talent also left the building, and there was a breakdown of important external relationships, such as those with local producers.

With a financial turnaround strategy that has yet to yield significant results in the midst of a global economic crisis, and pressure on advertising revenues, Mokhobo and her board have tough times ahead of them.

There will be other pressures, including those invisible strings pulled from Luthuli House, the ANC head office.

It is hoped that Mokhobo, as a former SABC executive, will return with enough experience and savvy to avoid the pitfalls that have impeded her predecessors - not least for the sake of all South Africans who rely on the broadcaster for their television viewing.

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