The Democratic Alliance (DA) said the public broadcaster had gone back on a decision to give live terrestrial coverage to the congress in Nelson Mandela Bay this weekend.
“At this stage, the SABC is unwavering in their decision against agreements for live coverage,” said DA federal council chairperson James Selfe.
“It is manifestly in the public interest that a national elective congress of the official opposition in South Africa, representing four million votes, receives coverage on the national broadcaster.
“Both the public interest, and the SABC’s own editorial policy, demand that this congress be broadcast to all South Africans, on the national broadcaster.”
A day before the ANC’s last national elective conference in 2012 in Mangaung, the SABC boldly announced big plans, detailing extensive coverage and live crossings to the four-day event as well as extended Morning Live segments on SABC 2.
The broadcaster also gave uninterrupted coverage to the ANC’s birthday celebration on January 8 in Cape Town.
But SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the DA federal congress would be given live coverage on its 24 hour DStv channel. Kganyago said the DA wanted to “dictate where they want to sit” and accused the party of “changing the agreement”.
He said the party was demanding live coverage on SABC 2 but this was never promised.
According to Selfe, the SABC initially agreed to broadcast live for two hours on Saturday morning, covering the opening ceremony and Zille’s speech.
Selfe said he had a telephone conversation on Thursday afternoon with the SABC’s head of news, Jimi Matthews, but that “the SABC is unwavering in their decision against agreements for live coverage”.
“I’ve spoken to Hlaudi Motsoeneng [the SABC’s chief operating officer] and he said he would get back to me on Friday,” said Selfe.
“Should the SABC not reconsider this about-turn on live coverage for this DA federal congress, the DA will take steps against the SABC which may include approaching the High Court to review their decision,” said Selfe. – News24