SABC facing R1m fine if found guilty of defying Icasa

Icasa has told a parliamentary committee that it has laid criminal charges over the SABC’s failure to comply with an order to set aside a ban on airing visuals of violent protests.

FILE: SABC News. Picture Taurai Maduna/EWN

CAPE TOWN – The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) could be fined up to R1 million if found guilty of failing to comply with broadcast regulator the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa)’s order to set aside a ban on airing visuals of violent protests.

Icasa has told Parliament’s Communications Portfolio committee that it has laid criminal charges with the police over the public broadcaster’s failure to comply.

Controversial former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng announced in May last year, the decision to stop broadcasting footage of the destruction of property during protests on the basis that it might encourage others to follow suit.

In July, after hearing complaints, Icasa ordered that the decision be rescinded.

Icasa laid charges with the police against the SABC in November.

Councillor Nomvuyiso Batyi says the authority was told two weeks ago that the matter’s now with the Hawks.

Batyi says the SABC agreed to comply with Icasa’s ruling when it was handed down in July last year, but has failed to provide any proof that it has in fact done so.

“We’ve written a number of letters of demand to get them to demonstrate they’ve complied with the order and that they’ve made a board resolution… at the time there was still a board and that has never been furnished to the authority.”

Penalties for defying Icasa include being fined up to R1 million or a year in jail for the accounting officer.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)