SABC: Protest footage decision won't impact factual reporting

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

A police officer stands next to a burning shopping trolley as he looks for looters outside the Central City shopping centre in Mabopane north of Pretoria on 23 June 2016. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says while it will not be airing footage of violent protests, this will not impact on factual reporting by the public broadcaster.

It presented its reasoning behind the decision not to broadcast footage of violent protests where property is destroyed.

In a statement to by COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng last month, he said the reason is to prevent copycat behaviour.

The SABC also said broadcasting footage of violent protests was affecting brand South Africa internationally and discouraged foreign investment.

Media Monitoring Africa together with three other civil organisations have been presenting their cases against the SABC to Independent Communications Authority of South Africa's (Icasa) complaints committee.

SABC representative Bantubonke Dakota says the SABC will show images of destruction of property, but only after the incidents, to prevent different communities copying what they see on TV.

He says while protesters vandalising property will not be aired, the result of the protest will be broadcast.

Last month, however, the public broadcaster stated it would not show any footage of violent protests.

Representative for the complainants Dario Milo says this is censorship.

"It has essentially placed a restraint on its journalists from covering a matter of great public interest."

The committee will now analyse the arguments made by both parties and report to the Icasa, which will rule on the matter.


The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) has called on the SABC to lift the suspension of three of its senior journalists.

It's understood the three were removed for disagreeing with an instruction not to cover a Right to Know Campaign's protest against "censorship" at the public broadcaster.

Earlier this week, the Right to Know Campaign led protests against SABC's management in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, petitioning the ban on protest coverage and new editorial policies that Motsoeneng the final say on editorial decisions.

Sanef's Adriaan Basson says, "The South African National Editors' Forum is shocked by the latest suspension of three SABC journalists. We believe that in a constitutional democracy journalists have the right to express themselves freely."