SABC: Protest footage is bad for SA's brand image

The broadcaster says showing footage of destruction of property has a negative effect on foreign investment.

FILE: Buses were torched during overnight protests in Mabopane north of Pretoria on 21 June 2016. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says broadcasting footage of violent protests is affecting brand South Africa internationally and discourages foreign investment.

Media Monitoring Africa together with three other civil organisations are presenting their case to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa's (Icasa) complaints committee over the SABC's decision not to broadcast footage of the destruction of property.

The public broadcaster announced its decision last month, but critics have called it a violation of the Broadcasting Act.

SABC representative Bantubonke Dakota has 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 says the airing of footage of the destruction of property is 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 says broadcasting violent protests encourages copycat behaviour.

At the same time, the SABC has admitted that it has no evidence at this stage that broadcasting violent protests leads to encouraging copycat behaviour.

Dakota says the public broadcaster has a responsibility to protect children from watching violent protests.

This was one of the reasons submitted by the representatives regarding its decision not to air footage of violent protests.

But, representing the complainant, Dario Milo, says the SABC has provided no evidence to support its claims.

"You are restricting and infringing a fundamental right and you need empirical evidence to show there's a justification for that. They don't have it."

Dakota says the public broadcaster does not have evidence at this stage because it was pressed for time to make its submissions for today's hearing.