DA threatens to report SABC on elections ads, while broadcaster says issue is resolved
The Democratic Alliance has accused the SABC of censorship and threatened to report the public broadcaster to the communications regulator Icasa over delays in airing the party’s advertisements.
The SABC has countered by saying that the issue is resolved, and described the DA’s complaint as an election campaign stunt.
DA MP and communications spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said the party had been involved in talks with the SABC for a week after it refused to air the DA’s political advertisements. She said the DA rejected the broadcaster’s stated reason for this, namely that it was waiting for a list of parties registered for the August 3 municipal polls in order to allocate slots to these parties for their advertisements.
Van Damme accused the SABC of conflating and Political Advertisements (PAs) – for which parties pay commercial rates and broadcast on any and all stations – with free one-minute slots on SABC stations, which are known as Party Election Broadcasts or PEBs.
“These [the adverts that are delayed] are paid advertisements, and there is no need for allocation of slots. This is pure nonsense,” Van Damme said. “These are blatant lies.”
She added that the DA was surprised to hear SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyakgo claim in news reports that the party needed to change its advertisements before they could be aired.
“This is news to us. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our adverts. This smacks of deliberate censorship.
“We see this for what it is – a smokescreen to continue to delay them being aired for even longer,” Van Damme said, adding that the broadcaster was trying to secure an unfair advantage for the African National Congress (ANC).
But Kganyakgo insisted that the SABC needed to wait to receive a list of parties contesting the elections from the Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC), which he said the SABC received on Monday.
“We can start [airing the adverts] now,” he told the African News Agency (ANA). “We had been delayed because we need to follow the due process.”
The particular requirement applied to paid Political Advertisements as well, he said, adding that it was spurious to suggest that the broadcaster would delay revenue generating advertising as “we need the money”.
“I don’t want to turn this into a DA issue, but it [the party’s claim of censorship] was a stunt.”
When asked when the SABC would begin screening the party’s advertisements, Kganyakgo said he could not say as this was determined by a separate division in the organisation. As a rule, he said, five days needed to lapse after the advertisement was received by the broadcaster so that it could ensure that the advert’s content was “in order”.
The advertisement in question claims that the poor receive better service delivery in areas governed by the DA. – ANA (Edited by Michelle Solomon)