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Broke SABC hires ‘expert ’ at R20k a day

Rian Till is on SABC's payroll

A R20,000 a day offer made by the cash-strapped SABC to a freelancer to do work that senior managers argue could be done by internal staffers has set the cat among the pigeons at the public broadcaster.

Internal SABC documents show that the broke public broadcaster offered former Primedia chief of operations Ryan Till a whopping R320,000 monthly fee as a freelancer.

According to an SABC memorandum dated July 17, Till was initially earmarked for an appointment to assist the SABC to develop a digital strategy for radio.

Sunday World can reveal that Till’s appointment was effected after a process that was initiated by general manager responsible for strategy and operations in the radio division, Johan van Rooyen.

Insiders say the initial contract had to be repackaged after senior HR manager for SABC red flags about the offer.

Among some of HR’s concerns was that the appointment would not add value and that Till’s contract did not qualify to be categorised as a freelance contract, but a consultant, as it required him to work eight hours a day, which effectively made him an employee of the SABC.

Senior employees privy to the contract also revealed that after numerous meetings and concerns by HR, top management kept changing the scope of the contract, and ultimately moved it from radio and digital sales to include TV.

SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu confirmed that Till was on their books but declined to give details of his contract.

“Mr Till, who has an excellent track record and more than 20 years broadcasting industry experience in sales and revenue generation including commercial strategy and digital transformation, has been contracted as an independent contractor for a period of four months, for less than eight hours a week, with no expectation of renewal. He has worked alongside many SABC representatives,” said Mthembu.

“Owing to the gaps that have been identified within the commercial enterprises division, he has been brought in to assist in ensuring that the SABC’s commercial sales strategy is geared towards current market conditions, to capitalise on quick wins and accelerate the SABC’s revenue in the medium to long term. Commercial enterprises sells both TV and radio advertising to the advertising industry.

“All relevant governance processes were adhered to … the cost claimed to be associated with this contract is wide off themark. Theassertion that he will also be playing a duplicate role is without merit.”

Till’s phone rang unananswered and he did not respond to text messages.

The internal memo was initially not supported by HR boss for radio Liketso Mashigo who flagged its noncompliance with the policies on freelance contracts.

Other reasons outlined by Mashigo included duplication of roles because the SABC already had people entrusted with the same responsibilities to be allocated to Till.

Mashigo also said that the SABC could utilise its digital unit for the intended purpose instead of appointing Till.

The document also shows that Mashigo cautioned the absence of key performance areas on the memo stating that the dates of appointment were not bench marked to avoid escalations of costs.

By Aubrey Mothombeni