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Wed Aug 31 10:01:59 CAT 2016

SA must resist the hardcore fascists controlling the SABC: Cope

TMG Digital | 29 February, 2016 09:42
The DA’s Phumzile Van Damme said 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. File photo
Image by: Waldo Swiegers. (C) Sunday Times.

The Congress of the People (Cope) on Monday threatened to go to “court to interdict the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) from illegally gagging South Africans”.

This came a day after calls by other opposition parties for the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to investigate an alleged decision by the public broadcaster to ban call-ins at all its radio stations until after the local government polls.

According to media reports‚ a written notice has been sent to all SABC radio stations with instructions 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”.

“For the SABC to have the gall to impose a gag on callers participating in talk-shows is despicable‚ revolting and sickening‚” said Cope’s Dennis Bloem. “The public broadcaster belongs to the people‚ not the African National Congress (ANC). A talk-in show by its very definition is participatory with open lines. It is anathema to COPE that the SABC continues to be a law unto itself.”

Bloem’s criticism singled out SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng‚ whom he called “a danger to our democracy”.

“South Africa must resist the hardcore fascists controlling the SABC‚” he said.

Bloem also attacked the ruling party for allowing the gagging order: “If the ANC condones this condemnable curbing and curtailing of opinion and expression‚ it will be acting in gross violation of our Constitution.” The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) on Sunday both condemned the move by the SABC.

“The ideal that makes a public broadcaster is free speech and the ability to hold those in power acceptable‚” the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Quintin Ndlozi said.

“Open lines give a chance to the ordinary voices in the suppressed‚ neglected and forgotten parts of our country to air their views and influence the setting of the agenda of public discourse.”

“It is indeed true that the SABC's move comes as a result of many ANC ministers who complained that there is too much negativity against the government of the ANC.

“The move therefore is not concerning elections‚ but protection of ANC from public criticism‚ which is a clear violation of freedoms of speech.”

The DA’s Phumzile Van Damme said 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‚” she said.

“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.

“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 said.

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