MMA applauds ICASA’s decision to lay criminal charges against the SABC for failing to comply with its order on broadcast of footage of violent protests.

Day one of the inquiry and already SABC has elected to walks out of the parliamentary inquiry to divert attention from a deluge of damning evidence.

First up, reports from the Auditor General, highlighted that payments had been made without contracts, in violation of their own internal processes and that irregular expenditure shown in the SABC financial statements was under reported. (i.e. the SABC misrepresented its financial statements to the public.) In addition the Auditor General’s input stressed how the SABC had failed to provide it with a series of documents – further giving credence to views the SABC has senior management has much to hide.

As if that wasn’t bad enough the regulator, ICASA  seems to have regained its sense of purpose and they announced that they would be taking action against the SABC for its failure to comply with the Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) ruling regarding the Public Protest Ban.

Indeed Parliament seems to be on firm ground as research by Media Monitoring Africa can reveal the following in its latest report:

The report reveals the following:

·         Protests were covered on SABC TV, and given prominence, but violent protests received significantly less prominence in news bulletins than non violent protests

·         Significantly less violent protests were covered than non-violent protests despite several violent protests taking place during the monitored periods

·         Footage was used in reporting of violent protests BUT critically:

o   In the majority of items covering violent protests NO images of the actual violence were shown – in line with the protest ban and in violation of the ICASA order, and

o   Footage of the after math of the violence was shown – in line with Protest ban approach adopted by the SABC.

Accordingly our monitoring presents clear evidence that the Protest Ban adopted by SABC remained in force in the run up to the elections (see pages 28 – 36 of “From Protest Ban to Biased Reporting?: SABC Coverage of the 2016 Municipal Elections” Media Monitoring Africa) and subsequently, despite, and in clear violation of an order by ICASA requiring the retrospective reversal thereof.

Accordingly we call on ICASA and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee to act with urgency and exercise any and all means at its disposal to hold those responsible for these and other violations accountable and bring to an end the absolute crisis at the SABC.  Indeed each day that passes not only entrenches the crises but allows those responsible to continue to act with impunity.

For more information:

William Bird 082 887 1370

Thandi Smith 073 470 7306