Civil organisations to picket outside ANC HQ over SABC debacle

Civil society organisations have protested against censorship at the SABC.

FIEL: Former Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi joined the picket outside the SABC offices in Auckland Park today calling for an end to censorship. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Civil society organisations are expected to protest outside the African National Congress (ANC)'s national headquarters in Johannesburg today over the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)'s decision to censor footage of violent protests.

Communications regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), has told the SABC to withdraw its decision. But the broadcaster is standing firm and intends challenging (Icasa)'s ruling.

The Right To Know Campaign's Micah Reddy said: "There has been rolling mass action outside the SABC offices for weeks now and yet Hlaudi Motsoeneng remains in his position and we're taking the protest to Luthuli House because underpinning so much of the current malice at the SABC is political interference."

Meanwhile, the SABC has told Icasa that it does not believe that its ruling on the broadcaster's decision not to air images of destructive protests actually constitutes an order.

It has sent a formal letter to the communications regulator, claiming that the judgment it has been given, appears to only be a recommendation and not a ruling.

In the letter, the SABC's lawyers say the judgment they have been given is from Icasa's complaints commission, which makes recommendations to Icasa's council.

They say as a result, they have received no order from Icasa. The lawyers said that this makes it difficult to decide whether to appeal the decision.

On Monday, Icasa said the SABC had to immediately rescind its editorial policy change that said it would no longer show images of violent and destructive protests.

Earlier this week, SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoneng said they would appeal this ruling and that no outsider would tell the SABC what to do.

The broadcaster's lawyers have now formally asked Icasa for the full minutes of its meeting at which it decided to make the recommendation an order.