Editorial SABC Crosses The Line

GOOD sense has won out at CCV: we’ll be able to watch The Line in its entirety this weekend, despite Inkatha objections. But the battle over this mini-series — coupled with the furore over the status of Afrikaans on television — raises troubling questions for the SABC.

How does South Africa’s public broadcaster balance the will of the majority over the interests of a minority which it is legally bound to protect?

CCV’s final statement over The Line tells viewers, unequivocally, that “we are accountable to you and you alone”. But what if the majority of South Africans don’t want Afrikaans on TV1; is that reason enough for it to be dropped?

And what if the majority of South Africans want to watch The Line; is that reason enough for it to be continued, even if a minority experiences the series as discriminatory? Is a decision by plebiscite not as dangerous as a decision based on the interference of one political party? Does the quality and veracity of the programme count for so little?

It is tempting to be moved by CCV’s stirring “we are accountable to you and you alone” sentiments, but they mask the real issue: that there is no-one asking — and finding answers to — critical questions at the SABC. The corporation is without vision or leadership, and it is not going to solve anything by throwing up its hands and asking us, the viewers, to decide.

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