31 August 2017

South Africa: DA Make Submissions On SABC Editorial Policy

Photo: Zaian/Wikipedia
SABC offices in Sea Point, Cape Town (file photo).
press release

The DA has today submitted written comment on the SABC's Editorial Policy. Today marks the final day for the submission of comment on the review of the SABC's Editorial Policy, as announced by the public broadcaster's interim board in July this year.

It is of absolute importance that the public and interested parties have a say in how their public broadcaster is governed. Section 6 of the Broadcasting Act requires the SABC Board to invite and consider public comment on draft amendments to its editorial policies.

The DA, therefore, welcomes the SABC interim board encouraging the public, political parties, civil society and interested parties participating throughout in crafting an Editorial Policy that will ensure that our public broadcaster is truly independent, and delivers quality programming.

The DA has made the following submissions:

Editor-In-Chief: The DA proposes removing the GCEO of the SABC from the position of editor-in-chief of the public broadcaster. Top management must not be involved in making editorial decisions, that should be left to the respective line managers, with the Head of News as editor-in-chief of the SABC.

Upward Referral: With the principle of journalistic, creative and programming independence of SABC staff as a guiding factor, the DA proposes that news decisions should be made on the newsroom floor, and left entirely to news editors, without the involvement of top management, in order to insulate news decisions from political and commercial considerations.

Sanctions for infringement of SABC Editorial Code: In order to ensure that the values contained in the SABC's Editorial Code are not merely lofty ideals, but rather central to how the SABC makes editorial decisions, the DA proposes the inclusion of a section in the Editorial Code which details consequences for staff and management who violate the Editorial Code.

Improving Public Education: The DA proposes that the SABC partner with key Chapter 9 institutions such as the IEC in order to educate South Africans about their civic rights and duties.

Local Content: South Africa has many talented actors, musicians and producers who can provide the SABC with quality programming. The SABC must, therefore, in consultation with ICASA, increase in local content at the SABC.

Internal Ombudsman: The DA supports the call for the appointment of an Internal Ombudsman, as long as the individual is truly committed to Editorial Independence, freedom of speech, and the values enshrined in the SABC's various policies and legislation.

Events of national importance: The DA proposes that events of national importance requiring live coverage should be limited to, among others, the State of the Nation Address, the Budget Speech, significant conferences of major political parties and state funerals. Instead of the SABC's programming being interrupted for speeches by various leaders of the ANC.

The DA looks forward to contributing to a draft Editorial Policy once published following the initial phase of public comments.

The DA trusts that our proposed submissions will be considered and accepted in order to improve the quality of content at the public broadcaster.

Phumzile Van Damme MP

DA Shadow Minister of Communications

South Africa

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