Johannesburg – The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) will defend an urgent application by the African Content Movement to cover its 2019 elections manifesto launch on Saturday, the public broadcaster said.
The SABC had been served with an urgent court application by the ACM for the broadcaster to cover live the party’s manifesto launch on Saturday on SABC 2 and SABC News Channel 404 on DStv, SABC spokesman Vuyo Mthembu said.
The SABC "will be vigorously opposing the application", which was scheduled to be heard by the South Gauteng High Court at 10am on Saturday, he said.
"The position of the SABC is that ACM’s manifesto launch will be covered by its news division as a news story. The SABC has not provided live coverage of manifesto launches of any of the new and existing parties with no representation in parliament," Mthembu said.
SABC group executive for news and current affairs Phathiswa Magopeni said, “This is an editorial decision that has taken into account, among others, resource constraints and equitable coverage treatment of political parties contesting the elections. In addition as per Icasa [Independent Communications Authority of South Africa] regulations, there is no obligation on the SABC to provide live coverage to any political party."
No political party could dictate to the SABC how it provided coverage of election-related activities. However, in terms of Icasa’s regulations on public election broadcasts (PEBs) and political advertisements (PAs), these were pre-packaged materials received from political parties and the SABC was obliged to broadcast these in accordance with the regulations. These slots were determined by Icasa and not the SABC.
The SABC remained committed to covering the 2019 elections in an unrestrained, independent, and impartial manner, Mthembu said.
The ACM was launched in December by controversial former SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who was sacked by the SABC in 2017. At the time, the SABC interim board said Motsoeneg had brought the SABC into disrepute and caused irreparable damage to the corporation.
African News Agency/ANA