R2K continues its protest against SABC censorship!

Dinaledi News :                                                              24 June 2016 :

Right2Know activists will today stand in solidarity with allied organisations at a picket outside ICASA. We will gather from 11:30AM at ICASA, Block C, 164 Katherine Street in Sandton.

The regulator's Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) will be hearing a formal complaint brought by Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOS) and the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) regarding the SABC's decision to ban visuals of the destruction of property in protests across its news and current affairs bulletins.

 

The SABC's decision to airbrush the news by imposing a ban on footage of violence at protests must be condemned for the censorship it is. While Tshwane erupts in mass unrest, the SABC cameras are turned away from the crowds. The difference in the SABC's coverage of the protest and that of other broadcasters could hardly be starker. By not showing burning vehicles and shops being looted, the SABC downplays the seriousness of the situation, which has already resulted in deaths.

 

Those of us who can, are switching to alternative channels to find out what is happening in Tshwane. But the millions of viewers who rely on the SABC (both radio and TV) as their only source of broadcast news are being deprived of their right to know. They are being starved of information on a matter of enormous public interest and at a time of important political developments in the country. With elections just around the corner, politicians and the ruling party should expect to come under increasing scrutiny from the public, so it is no coincidence that we are witnessing worsening censorship at this critical juncture.

 

The SABC is increasingly toeing the ANC line, and for some time now it has tried to serve us half-baked and misleading reportage. During the State of the Nation address last year, when elected representatives were forcibly and illegitimately removed from Parliament, the SABC fed the public doctored footage that purposely left out the fracas.

 

The broadcaster's management has been intent on covering up the unpleasant realities of post-apartheid South Africa that are an indictment on the ruling party and the government it leads. More and more South Africans are fed up with poverty, corruption, the lack of transformation since apartheid, and leaders who are aloof and out of touch, and it is the poorest South Africans who feel this most acutely.

 

When South Africans express their exasperation and anger the results are often not pretty, but revealing this ugly truth is at odds with the myth peddled by Hlaudi Motsoeneng that it's always sunny in SA. This is why the SABC still refuses to screen the critically-acclaimed documentary on the Marikana Massacre, Miners Shot Down - to shield the political masters from embarrassment.

 

On Monday, June 20, during R2K-led protests against SABC management in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, we promised to maintain the pressure until the ban on protest coverage is lifted, the new editorial policies that give the COO the last say on editorial decisions are withdrawn, and Hlaudi is removed.

 

Over the years the independence of our public broadcaster has steadily eroded, but the decline of this vital institution has accelerated under Hlaudi's bungling reign. The public broadcaster, which is supposed to be transparent and accountable to the public, is no place for the arbitrary rule of a corrupt political stooge. He must pack his bags and leave, and take his idiotic and undemocratic decisions with him!

 

We reject news and programming that protects the powerful and keeps the public in the dark. We demand a public broadcaster that holds power to account and fosters more meaningful engagement in the political life of the country by informing the public. We demand an SABC where the independence and prerogative of editors is respected in practice and guaranteed in policy. And we demand an SABC that deals with violence associated with protests by contextualising it and treating it with the nuance and sensitivity it deserves, rather than pretending it doesn't exist.

 

We call on the public to support the initiative of our allied organisations and join the picket outside ICASA. Forward to media freedom and diversity!