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The SABC makes U-turn on its ‘censorship’ ruling

The broadcaster had previously said it would not comply with Icasa's ruling.

The SABC headquarters in Johannesburg. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG -The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has confirmed to Eyewitness News , that the South African Broadcasting Corporations (SABC) has now formally said that it will abide by its order to rescind its decision to ban the broadcast of images of violent and destructive protests.

The broadcaster had previously said it would not comply with the ruling, because it did not believe the order it was given actually constituted a ruling.

Earlier today, the SABC reached a settlement with the Helen Suzman Foundation in the High Court in Pretoria, under which it said it would not implement this decision now.

The South African Communist Party's(SACP) Alex Mashilo says the public broadcaster had no choice once it was dragged to court this morning.

"From that moment onwards, the SABC was forced to comply with the court interdict, and by complying with the interdict, it automatically had to comply with Icasa's 11 July ruling."

The Save Our SABC Coalition's Sekoetlane Phamodi is pleased with this development.

"This is very good news indeed, however we approach this with measured cynicism and will continue to keep watch over the SABC."

The SABC had earlier said it would defy Icasa, the African National Congress, other political parties and civil society groups over this ban.

Yesterday, Icasa warned the SABC to desist from further contravening its ruling on the broadcaster's ban on the airing of images of destructive protests.

This after the SABC had claimed it couldn't comply with the authority's judgment because it didn't know if it was a judgment from its council or only a recommendation of its compliance committee.

SABC AGREES TO PAY HELEN SUZMAN FOUNDATION LEGAL FEES

Meanwhile, the SABC has agreed to pay the legal fees of the Helen Suzman Foundation following the organisation's successful court application to stop further censorship of violent demonstrations.

The Foundation's Frances Antonie welcomed today's order.

"The SABC has conceded all our arguments and, without any argument in court, in addition punitive damages have been awarded against the SABC. We are very happy with the outcome."

CALLS FOR WATCHDOG ORGANISATIONS TO KEEP AN EYE ON SABC

Earlier, the Helen Suzman Foundation welcomed the High Court's granting of an interdict, which prohibits the SABC from censoring violent protests.

Antonie said, "It has been a fantastic victory, not only for the Helen Suzman Foundation and our team, but also for the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and for the rule of law. We are very pleased with the outcome."

Antonie added that the SABC must now be closely monitored.

"There's an appeal to all those organisations, such as Save Our SABC and Media Monitoring Africa, to ensure that the SABC continues to abide by the interdict."

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