WINDHOEK: The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) is hoping to achieve the generation of its own revenue of N.dollars 150 million by the year 2015.
The national broadcaster is also aiming at becoming the leading multi-media public broadcaster of choice in Africa.
On Thursday, just weeks after NBC Director-General (DG) Albertus Aochamub announced that the corporation would not be able to pay salaries to its staff members for November this year and said the broadcaster is in severe financial trouble, Board Chairman Sven Thieme issued a media statement providing insight into NBC’s affairs for the 2012/2013 financial year.
Thieme explained that the past two years involved rebuilding the national broadcaster “from scratch”.
“A lot of the key areas have suffered major neglect over many years and were in dire need of reform when the present Board was appointed in May 2010.
“Since the appointment of the Board, we have shared with the Namibian public in a transparent manner the challenges and progress we are making. This release follows the same trend, which we believe allows the Namibian taxpayers to know what is happening with their investments in NBC,” he said.
Thieme explained that one of the problems inherited from the broadcaster’s previous management was the fact that staff members’ pension contributions were used to finance NBC’s operational expenses.
The corporation also never paid over tax to the Ministry of Finance although it was deducted from workers, while huge penalties were incurred from the Receiver of Revenue on outstanding tax.
Major shortcomings that the corporation inherited in 2010, when the new Board was appointed, further included operational expenses which were short-funded; limited, or no financial accountability; limited own revenue contribution; a N.dollars 100 million bill in contingent liabilities; and a low staff morale.
Thieme also stated that the corporation has had some major achievements over the past year, one of which was its revenue increasing by 9 per cent (2 per cent above inflation of 7 per cent); and costs which have been largely contained and only rose by 3 per cent.
Operational cash-flow however remains a serious challenge.
Another highlight was that NBC’s revenue has improved with regards to television license revenue which was calculated at N.dollars 16.2 million. This represents an increase of over 17 per cent compared to last year.
Advertising revenue also showed an increase during the 2011/12 financial year, standing at N.dollars 41.5 million – representing an increase of 4 per cent compared to the previous year.
A significant improvement was recorded in transmitter rental income, which increased by 90 per cent to over N.dollars 4 million for the year due to improved billing and new clients.
Expenditure over the same period (2011/12 financial year) included direct operational spending on broadcasting activities which increased by 5 per cent (2 per cent below inflation rate of 7 per cent) to N.dollars 31.6 million; while overall employment related costs increased only marginally to N.dollars 142 million, translating to 8 per cent excluding leave provision.
According to Thieme, pay increases have been partially offset by savings in overtime payments.
Other operational expenses amounted to N.dollars 31.8 million, which amounts to an increase of 6 per cent.
Addressing the future of the national broadcaster, Thieme said the introduction of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) will bring “fantastic opportunities” for Namibia.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) requires that DTT be fully implemented by all countries world-wide by 2015. DTT is the technological evolution of broadcast television and an advancement of analogue television which will, amongst other advantages, mean better video quality and an increase in television channels.
Thieme noted that some of the ways in which NBC stands to benefit is that more than one NBC TV channel (also carrying One Africa and Trinity Broadcasting Network on the bouquet as free to view channels) will be available and that television and radio population coverage will be improved.
A digital set-top box is required for DTT, and the possibility exists that Internet services can be accessed through the set-top box, thus closing the digital divide which currently exists in Namibia.
“The future is promising for all our staff as well since they can now be provided with training and up-skilling opportunities in various areas of the new NBC,” he added.