SOS Support Public Broadcasting Campaign is calling for an urgent investigation into whether SABC management ordered staff to drop open call-in lines until after the elections, as reported in the Sunday Times.
If this allegation is true, then SABC would be acting in violation of the constitution, its broadcasting licences and enabling legislation.
Open radio call lines are a popular form of public expression across broadcasting stations and any instruction to suspend these should be treated very seriously by all who support freedom of expression and accountable public broadcasting.
The SABC cannot claim that unilaterally dropping open lines is to promote free and fair elections. An election period has not yet been declared and ICASA, not the SABC, is responsible for determining rules on party political broadcasting during election periods. These rules will apply to broadcasters and political parties and not to the views expressed by members of the public calling into radio stations.
The SOS Coalition represents a broad spectrum of civil society stakeholders committed to the broadcasting of quality, diverse, citizen-orientated public-interest programming aligned to the goals of the SA Constitution.
The Coalition includes a number of trade union federations including COSATU and FEDUSA, a number of independent unions including BEMAWU and MWASA (Media Workers Association of South Africa); independent film and TV production sector organisations including the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); a host of NGOs and CBOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), SECTION27 and a number of academics and freedom of expression activists.
For more information contact:
- Michael Markovitz, SOS Working Group member, 083 260 0889
- Thandi Smith, SOS Chairperson, 073 470 7306