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SABC's Motsoeneng denies DA ad was banned

Glynnis Underhill

SABC acting COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng says the DA's second election advert will be aired on May 1, despite the party claiming it had been banned.

The launch of the DA's television campaign in Bekkersdal. (Gallo)

The SABC’s acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the Democratic Alliance (DA) was mistaken in believing that the public broadcaster had refused to televise its second election “Ayisafani” advert.

“There is nothing like that. It is not true,” Motsoeneng told the Mail & Guardian . “I spoke to Helen Zille myself and told her.” 

The M&G has established there had been an internal letter distributed among staff that vet advertisements. 

The letter had raised some concerns about the DA’s second election advertisement, and it is believed this correspondence had resulted in a leak that the ad would not be aired.

In the meantime, the DA released a statement on Wednesday announcing that the second advertisement had been pulled.

“The DA has just learnt that the SABC will not allow our second ‘Ayisafani’ television advert to air in this crucial final week of the campaign,” the party said. “This is political censorship, plain and simple.” 

But Motsoeneng said the advertisement would go on air on May 1. 

His chat with Zille had been cordial, he said. “We always have very nice chats. No one banned that advert. I did check the advert, there is nothing wrong with it. We do monitor advertisements, and I am part of that team. We check with the legal department but it is not handled only by the individual Hlaudi,” he said.

“It is totally wrong, no one banned the advert. Don’t know why they said the ad was banned. In most cases, we ask them to amend the advert. This ad looked like the same advert, but amended.” 

Motsoeneng said the SABC did not go around banning advertisements. “There is nothing like that happening. We negotiate with people and ask them to amend it.”

In a media briefing earlier on Wednesday, Zille said her party’s advert was meant to be aired on Wednesday morning and that she had received a letter from the broadcaster’s Fakir Hassen, which said the advert was not allowed to be aired.

She said the party would seek an urgent high court interdict on Thursday morning if the SABC did not flight its advert at 9pm.

During the briefing, Zille said she had received a phone call from Motsoeneng saying the advert would be aired. “We have verbal confirmation, but nothing in writing ... Till then we will continue with our court application and steps to seek an urgent court interdict.”

The DA’s first election advert was pulled by the SABC after it was flighted on April 8 and April 9. The public broadcaster said it incited violence.

Agreement was then reached between the DA and the SABC on the advertisement, and it was again flighted.

On Friday, a complaint by the South African Police Service regarding the first advert that contains a photo of a police officer shooting rubber bullets was upheld by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa). 

The DA launched the second advert in Mamelodi, outside Pretoria on Monday.  At the time Zille said “Ayisafani 2: The DA is bigger, stronger, and ready to win!” would air on television every day from Tuesday until Sunday. – Additional reporting by Sapa


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