SABC dismiss DA 'bias' allegation

The SABC has dismissed allegations by the DA of biased election coverage on Sunday.

The Democratic Alliance has accused the broadcaster of refusing it live coverage, but devoting a two-hour live broadcast to the ANC’s final election rally in Johannesburg on Sunday.

“The decision to cover the rally live was based on the newsworthiness of the event, which was the biggest political rally since 1994,” group executive of SABC news and current affairs Phil Molefe said.

The rally was attended by more than 91 000 supporters and linked to other African National Congress provincial rallies.

“The SABC is satisfied that its overall coverage of this election has been fair, consistent, and equitable. In fact, the DA enjoyed greater coverage in proportion to its current representation in local government,” Molefe said in a statement.

The SABC said it needed to be borne in mind that the principle of equitable coverage does not mean equal coverage.

Earlier on Sunday MP James Selfe said the SABC’s decision was in violation of the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act (IBAA) because it was not equitable or consistent.

In a statement, Selfe said the act stated that a broadcaster was required to “treat all political parties equitably” and that “each broadcasting service should be consistent in its treatment of contesting parties and of conflicting views”.

“The act contains these requirements because, to bias coverage in one direction or the other, would be to favour one political party over another and unduly influence the ability of each South African citizen to discern the choices available to them.”

Selfe said the decision by the SABC promoted the views of the ANC and gave prominence to one agenda over others.

“A two-hour live crossing is incomparable with a hard news story on a bulletin.

“In doing so, it is to promote one choice before South Africans over another which is both contrary to the SABC’s mandate and undemocratic.

“Now, more than ever, the vote of every citizen can make a profound difference on 18 May,” he said.—Sapa


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