'Broadcasting Bill could threaten Public Broadcaster's independence'

The Bill has been criticised for giving Faith Muthambi powers to nominate SABC board members.

Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - The Broadcasting Amendment Bill has been criticised by opposition MPs for giving the Communications Minister the power to nominate South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board members.

Currently, Parliament chooses candidates who are appointed by the president.

Opposition parties say the Bill, if passed, will threaten the Public Broadcaster's independence.

But the African National Congress (ANC) denies there are moves to curtail the SABC's autonomy.

The Communications Department briefed the parliamentary committee responsible for oversight of the SABC on the bill earlier today.

The Democratic Alliance (DA)'s Phumzile van Damme says before the Bill is subjected to public hearings, she wants to see three separate legal opinions on the draft law.

This includes legal advice on whether Parliament can discuss the bill, considering the issues it raises are the subject of ongoing litigation between three NGOs and the ministry.

"This bill goes against the spirit of Section 16 of the Constitution, which requires an independent media."

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)'s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says removing Parliament's role in appointing board members is problematic.

"You can't ask us to go into the act and delete our participation as Parliament."

There are major disagreements between MPs on how Parliament should deal with the Bill.