Right to Know to protest outside SABC offices in JHB, CT & Durban

The SABC has banned visuals of communities destroying public property, claiming it incites violence.

FILE: The SABC offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Right to Know (R2K) campaign plans to protest outside several South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) offices tomorrow as part of its call for the public broadcaster to lift a ban on footage of violent protests in its news bulletins.

Last month, SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng announced the ban on visuals of communities destroying public property, claiming the footage inspires other communities to do the same.

The R2K campaign says pickets will go ahead in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, labelling the recent decision by Motsoeneng a form of media censorship.

The R2K's Busi Mtabane says the protest blackout at the SABC amounts to a distortion of facts.

"The reason for our protests is the fact that the public broadcaster's independence is being undermined by political interference and we saw that management has no respect for editorial integrity."

APARTHEID

Earlier this month, National Press Council Director Joe Thloloe said the SABC's new policy that it will no longer show certain violent images from service delivery protests, is the same condition set by the apartheid government.

Thloloe and Motsoeneng took part in a heated debate with a number of media organisations in Pretoria, unpacking the roles and responsibilities of journalists in South Africa.

The veteran journalist said he had seen the SABC's new policy before, when he was a journalist in 1985, after the apartheid government declared a state of emergency.

"One of the conditions under that state of emergency was that the media shouldn't take pictures at places where there were riots."

He said the policy threatens freedom of speech - as it did during apartheid.

Thloloe says journalists cannot distort the truth by omitting some truths.

"These regulations were exactly what Mr Motsoeneng is trying to do now, saying violent pictures are inciting violence."

Motsoeneng rejected this argument, saying the policies are not the same.