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Wed Sep 28 15:41:34 SAST 2016

DA to request ICASA to probe SABC ban on call-ins

TMG Digital | 28 February, 2016 11:53
SABC in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.
Image by: Waldo Swiegers. (C) Sunday Times.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it will request an investigation by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) of the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) alleged decision to ban call-ins at all its radio stations until after the elections.

According to media reports‚ a written notice has been sent to all SABC radio stations with instruction to stop open lines until after the election to “protect the station against anybody who could potentially use the platform for their own benefit and also use it for electioneering”.

DA spokesperson on communications Phumzile Van Damme said on Sunday the SABC’s decision was in violation of its current editorial policy‚ its obligations as listed in the Broadcasting Act‚ and its licence conditions in terms of the ICASA Code of Conduct for Broadcasting Service Licensees.

“According to the SABC’s Editorial Policy‚ phone-in and discussion programmes are an accepted and important means of broadcasting individual points of view on topics in order to uphold the SABC’s editorial principles of fairness‚ impartiality and balance‚ and to ensure that a wide range of views are broadcast.

“The Broadcasting Act requires that the SABC’s programming to be varied and offer a range of content and analysis from a South African perspective and provide a reasonable‚ balanced opportunity for the public to receive a variety of points of view on matters of public concern.

“The ICASA Code of Conduct for Broadcasting Service Licensees requires that particularly when related to controversial issues of public importance‚ broadcasters must make reasonable effort to fairly present opposing points of view‚” Van Damme said.

She added that banning call-ins limited the amount of varied opinions broadcast on SABC radio stations and news programmes‚ and would result in the opinions of radio presenters‚ government and politicians being the only ones given airtime.

“All South Africans have a stake at the SABC‚ and should be given reasonable opportunity to voice their opinions on matters of their interest.

“It is disturbing how SABC COO‚ Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Communications Minister‚ Faith Muthambi no longer even pretend to present a semblance of impartiality when related to the SABC.

“The DA intends on fighting this matter‚ and all other instances of the full state capture of the SABC. Muthambi and Motsoeneng will not be given full rein to turn the SABC into the ANC’s propaganda tool‚” Van Damme stated.

“The SABC is the public broadcaster and must broadcast the opinions of all South Africans regardless of political affiliation‚ race‚ culture.

“We trust that ICASA will investigate this matter in fulfilling its constitutional obligation to regulate broadcasting in the public interest and to ensure fairness and a diversity of views broadly representing South African society‚” Van Damme added.

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