DA threatens to report SABC’s ‘disproportionate coverage’ to Icasa

20 June 2016 - 13:21 By TMG Digital

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday claimed to have received “nearly three times” less coverage than the African National Congress (ANC) from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). This “disproportionate coverage” will be referred to the Independent Communication Authority of SA’s (Icasa) Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) “if the situation does not improve”‚ the DA’s James Selfe said. Selfe said its “analysis of coverage from 5 June 2016 to 17 June 2016” reveals a “coverage split for the three largest political parties on terrestrial TV news” as follows:- ANC 3 hours 4 minutes 6 seconds;- DA 1hr 13mins 57secs; and- Economic Freedom Fighters 43mins 6secs.“This data sample demonstrates just how skewed and disproportionate the SABC’s coverage is‚” Selfe said.“It is abundantly clear from the regulations that the coverage of political parties must be on an equitable and fair basis. It is implicit therefore that all political parties should receive more or less the same coverage by the SABC in a specified period.“To this end‚ we contend that the SABC is in contravention of the Municipal Party Elections Broadcasts and Political Advertisements Regulations‚ which deals with equitable treatment and fairness of political party coverage during an election period.”Selfe said the party has briefed counsel to immediately pursue action if the situation does not improve.He said “this is symptomatic of a public broadcaster that has been seized by the narrow political interests of its COO in Hlaudi Motsoeneng‚ whose death grip on press freedom has reached crisis proportions”. Selfe pointed to “Motsoeneng’s arbitrary refusal to have newspaper headlines read out on SABC radio and TV programming”‚ that Motsoeneng “is also behind the draconian editorial decision to no longer broadcast coverage of service delivery protests” and the “protracted refusal to broadcast the DA’s election advertisements on spurious grounds that are untenable in law”.He said the “DA is committed to restoring the integrity and independence of the SABC that should not act to censor the communication of opposition parties just because they do not like what they have to say about the ANC”.“The South African public have a constitutional right to fair and balanced reports that are in their interest and the SABC’s plot to thwart that is despicable.“As such we hope a complaint to the CCC will put an end to this irregular behaviour once and for all.”

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