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Sun Apr 30 05:08:21 SAST 2017

Hlaudi caves as SABC furore comes to a head

DOMINIC MAHLANGU, BABALO NDENZE and GRAEME HOSKEN | 2016-07-21 06:25:20.0
SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has outraged media activists with his editorial diktats
Image by: ALON SKUY

The SABC has been forced to get off its high horse and comply with the Independent Communications Authority of SA's order that it desist from censoring the news.

The SABC wrote to Icasa yesterday saying it would, with immediate effect, comply with the ruling that it abandon its policy of not televising images of violence and the destruction of property in protests.

The letter constituted a major about-face by Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC's COO, who last week said he would challenge Icasa's ruling in court.

Also yesterday, the SABC reached an out-of-court settlement with the Helen Suzman Foundation with regard to news censorship.

The Pretoria High Court yesterday interdicted the SABC from implementing its new policy on the televising of protest violence, pending a final determination.

ANC insiders said yesterday that the "mismanagement" of the corporation by Motsoeneng and the board were coming to an end.

"There is no more place to hide, and their actions will be exposed,'' said a senior ANC source. "We cannot be ruled by individuals who have no clue what it takes to run the SABC. The sooner this ends the better."

Yesterday, parliament added its voice, saying it was "deeply concerned" by the summary dismissal by the SABC this week of eight of its senior journalists.

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has been summoned by parliament's communications oversight committee to report on August 23 on the status of all entities that report to her, including the SABC.

"Although we are not privy to the details of the cases, resignations and dismissals are a concern, especially in a country with high unemployment," said Humphrey Maxegwana, chairman of the parliamentary communications portfolio committee.

The committee had noted the Pretoria High Court's SABC judgment and hoped the corporation would comply with it.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said President Jacob Zuma should appoint a commission of inquiry into the SABC board's inability to perform its duties and the "unconstitutional" editorial policies being enforced by the leadership of the SABC.

Maimane said the commission should also look into allegations by former SABC executives that opposition political parties were deliberately cut out of news coverage.

"This request comes in the wake of a series of scandals, legal findings and public outrage against the SABC," said Maimane.

The SACP has also called for the immediate removal of Motsoeneng.

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