SSBC’s Struggle for Impartiality: South Sudan’s National Public Broadcaster Battles Corruption, Funding Shortfalls, and Political Interference
South Sudan’s national public broadcaster, the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC), finds itself mired in many obstacles that impede its ability to deliver impartial and informative programming to the South Sudanese people. Established in 2011 following the country’s independence, SSBC has been plagued by inefficiency, corruption, lack of funding, technical troubles, and political interference, raising concerns about its ability to foster a healthy democratic discourse.
A government audit conducted in 2014 shed light on SSBC’s financial mismanagement, revealing a loss of over $1 million. The audit also exposed the hiring of unqualified staff members who were receiving inflated salaries. Moreover, the long-serving employees, some present since the station’s inception, hinder progress and limit the infusion of fresh perspectives.
The station’s financial struggles have had a detrimental impact on the quality of its programming. The government’s meagre budget allocation fails to cover operational costs, leading to staff and resource cuts, ultimately resulting in a decline in programming standards.
Technical glitches further compound SSBC’s woes, frustrating viewers with black screens and interrupted broadcasts. During a crucial national team match against Gambia, SSBC’s signal vanished due to a technical flaw, disappointing fans nationwide. Moreover, the absence of necessary infrastructure, including limited electricity access and the lack of a national FM network, restricts SSBC’s reach and its ability to provide vital programming.
The spectre of political interference looms large over SSBC, jeopardizing its independence. Incidences of censorship, where critical programming is stifled, raise doubts about the station’s commitment to presenting diverse viewpoints and facilitating open democratic discourse.
Despite these formidable challenges, SSBC has made modest progress in recent years, launching a new website and FM network while producing more local content. However, to fulfil its crucial role as the national public broadcaster, SSBC must confront its problems head-on and secure adequate funding from the government.
The future of SSBC hangs in the balance, uncertain yet pregnant with potential. If the station can navigate its challenges and unlock its latent capacity, it holds the power to play a transformative role in the development of South Sudan.
By addressing its inefficiencies, combating corruption, securing reliable funding, investing in technical infrastructure, and safeguarding its independence, SSBC can emerge as a beacon of impartiality, informative journalism, and democratic dialogue in South Sudan’s media landscape.