Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), the SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOSA) and the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) lodged papers with the Complaints Compliance Committee of ICASA over the SABC’s decision to ban coverage of violent protests/destruction of public property.
We believe the decision to be unlawful and in clear violation of the Broadcasting Act, the SABC’s licence conditions and the SABC’s revised editorial policies. The SABC seem dead set against the possibility of changing their mind (See: http://www.thenewage.co.za/sabc-wont-back-down-on-decision/) which is why we have opted to go the route of a legal challenge to the Complaints Compliance Committee.
William Bird, Director of MMA said, “The decision has clear negative implications, for media freedom and yet we have been given no indication that the decision followed due process. Given the gravity of the issue, we would have hoped for a clearly argued principle backed up by strong supporting evidence, instead we have hubris and confusion.“
Supporting the complaint, SOS Coordinator, Sekoetlane Phamodi, said, “We are really disappointed that one of the first acts drawing on the Revised Editorial Policies see the SABC undermine its own independence and inject a culture of self-censorship within our national public broadcaster. Indeed, we believe the Revised Editorial Policies themselves need to be struck down.”
“As the FXI, we too are concerned about the impact the decision will have for ordinary South Africans and their right to freedom of expression and access to information. Not only does the banning take us back to an SABC of the 80’s, it is also afundamentally flawed reasoning.” Sheniece Linderboom Head of the FXI Law Clinic.
As the decision has been taken with immediate effect we have asked that the matter be heard on an urgent basis.