By Jean Christou
PUBLIC broadcaster CyBC’s ability to continue being a going concern is incumbent on the continued disbursement of state funding, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides said in his latest report on the corporation.
On December 31, 2014, the corporation’s current liabilities were €12.5 million, compared with €14 million in 2013, while total circulating assets were valued at €5.4 million (€6.8 million in 2013), translating to a deficit of €7.2 million shortfall in working capital, compared with €14.2 million in 2013m, the report said.
Total liabilities exceeded total assets by €129.7 million. The shortfall arises primarily from the corporation’s contributions to its employees’ pension fund, it added.
In 2014, CyBC had a total of 402 employees, 93 of whom were permanent staff, and its wage bill totaled €14.8m compared to 416 staff and a wage bill of €16.4m in 2013.
Michaelides made special reference to the corporation’s 14 foreign correspondents some of whom are paid by the piece and others who are on monthly retainers.
Contributors are paid anything from €20 a piece in Australia to €38 per piece in Germany while monthly retainers ranged from €500 a month for a London correspondent to €1,570 a month in New York and Turkey.
The report said that in August last year, the board was planning to revise the methods of payment to give fixed amounts in key locations such as Athens, London, Istanbul and New York and to give a flat fee to the remainder. It had also decided to attempt a sharing agreement for foreign correspondents with the Cyprus News Agency and other news organisations but Michaelides noted that to date none of this had been done.
The CYBC’s commercial department also needed to be reorganised, he said, in an effort to counter the decline in radio advertising revenue and collections. At the end of 2014, the corporation was owed €1,375,913 from clients and had filed €543,099 in lawsuits.
“So far they have not been able to recover the amounts as in some cases companies have closed or been dissolved,” the report said. “The corporation should explore the reasons for this accumulation and if errors are detected whether there has been any failure in terms of accountability on the part of the responsible officials in the corporation.”