SABC: We must protect journalists, children from violence

The SABC has given reasons behind its recent controversial decision not to show violent demonstrations.

FILE: Residents barricaded the main road leading into the Hammanskraal township and motorists were threatened amid protest violence on 24 May 2016. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says it has a responsibility to protect its journalists from covering violent protests and to make sure children do not see the destruction of property on air.

The SABC has provided its reasons for the recent controversial decision not to show violent demonstrations.

Media Monitoring Africa together with three other civil organisations are presenting their cases to Icasa's complaints committee.

Dario Milo, who represents the complainants, says the Broadcasting Act already has provisions to protect children.

"It's important to protect children and that's why the BCCSA code has a number of protections already for all broadcasters. They say to the SABC and all the others, if you're going to be broadcasting at a certain time of the day, you've got to be aware that children are in the audience and we call it a watershed period."

He says the job of journalists is sometimes dangerous but that's no reason not to censor some information.

"Journalists who decide that they want to cover this kind of event take that risk and it's not going to help to say 'turn the cameras off when there's the actual act of burning'."


Earlier today, the SABC said broadcasting footage of violent protests was affecting brand South Africa internationally and discouraged foreign investment.

SABC representative Bantubonke Dakota urged the Icasa tribunal not to make a judgment on the matter today, but to take time to analyse the arguments given by both parties, and not follow public opinion.

He said the airing of footage of the destruction of property was having a negative effect on foreign investment.

"Who is going to invest in a country where the assets are not properly protected? Why are we trying to depict South Africa to the whole world as 'this is how South Africans behave?"

Dakota said broadcasting violent protests encouraged copycat behaviour.

At the same time, the SABC has admitted that it had no evidence at this stage that broadcasting violent protests led to the encouragement of copycat behaviour.