Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nyanda determined to proceed with SABC funding bill

PUBLISHED in the BUSINESS DAY: 2010/01/20 06:25:24 AM

CAPE TOWN — Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda is determined to proceed with the controversial proposals in the draft Public Service Broadcasting Bill despite widespread concern that they would undermine the independence of the SABC.

Even though Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has clearly he said does not consider it “prudent” for the SABC to be funded by means of a levy of up to 1% on personal income tax. Nyanda insisted yesterday that the Treasury had been informed about the draft bill so that it could “inform (Gordhan) about (it) and its implications to his department”.

Gordhan said in a reply to a parliamentary question last month he had not been consulted about the draft bill. As a money bill it would have to be tabled in Parliament by the Treasury.

It has not yet been approved by the Cabinet.

Nyanda yesterday rejected the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) view that the draft bill would give him “unprecedented authority” over the SABC as “baseless and unfounded”.

“I have no intention of undermining that principle (freedom of the media) by ‘interfering’ with the day- to-day running of the public broadcaster,” he said.

“The SABC has both a board of directors and a group executive responsible for managing the public broadcaster. I have full confidence in both the board and executive management of the SABC to steer the crucial national asset towards the right direction and take it to greater heights.”

Nyanda said other ministers whose departments were affected by certain aspects of the draft bill would have an opportunity to comment on these issues when the draft bill was tabled in the Cabinet.

He said the public would be given an opportunity to comment further on the bill before it becomes law.

Comments already submitted from concerned bodies and the public on the bill would be “consolidated into the draft bill and be sent to Cabinet for discussion, after which the draft will be sent to Parliament for further discussion and be subjected to public hearings”, he said.

The DA on Monday accused the government of trying make managerial incompetence at the SABC an excuse for state interference.