SABC responds to Icasa’s ruling on censorship

Icasa has ordered the public broadcaster to withdraw the ban on the airing of violent protest footage.

The SABC offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.  Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board chairperson Mbulaheni Maguvhe says the corporation's lawyers will now study the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa's (Icasa) ruling against its editorial changes, and may take the matter to court.

The authority has ordered the corporation to withdraw editorial changes it made in May, banning the airing of violent protest footage.

There have been a number of protests against the SABC's decision and eight journalists are facing disciplinary action for criticising the public broadcaster's policy changes.

Maguvhe says he was not surprised by the ruling.

"If [the legal advisers'] advice is that we are going to review this matter with relevant authorities, which would include the High Court and the Constitutional Court - that is what we are going to do."

Icasa's council has ordered the broadcaster to withdraw editorial changes it made in May, banning the airing of violent protest footage.

The council says the decision was not in line with the Broadcasting Act or the Bill of Rights.

Icasa's Rubben Mohlaloga says only a decision taken by a court of law will allow the SABC not to implement the recommendations of the authority's council.

He says if the corporation fails to follow procedure, Icasa's complaints and compliance committee will look into the matter.

"If there are instances of non-compliance, the committee will look into the matter and recommend what the penalties [should be].

Mohlaloga says he believes the SABC will comply with the requirements or follow necessary steps.

The broadcaster now has seven days to respond to Icasa's call for the reversal of its policies.

LISTEN: Icasa's ruling on SABC's editorial changes to editorial


At the same time, the SABC's Chief Operations Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, says the corporation is prepared to take the matter of its editorial policies to the Constitutional Court to defend them - if need be.

Despite this today's ruling by Icasa, Motsoeneng says the corporation stands by its policies.

He also says disciplinary action taken against staff members is an internal process.

"We, as the SABC, will not be influenced by people outside or internally. We will deal with the issues of the SABC as per the process and governance within the organisation. No is going to tell us what to do."

To read the full judgment, click here.