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S. African public broadcaster ordered to withdraw ban on protest coverage

S. African public broadcaster ordered to withdraw ban on protest coverage

South Africa

South Africa’s Independent Communications Authority (Icasa) has ruled on Monday that the public broadcaster, SABC, should withdraw its ban on airing violent protests.

The telecommunication regulation body said their decision was binding and can be subject to a review by SABC.

In the next seven days we expect SABC to say to us they haven't complied to the ruling, that is that they would have withdrawn the decision.

“In the next seven days we expect SABC to say to us they haven’t complied to the ruling, that is that they would have withdrawn the decision it has taken regarding the broadcasting the burning of public property,” the Acting Chairperson of Icasa, Reuben Mohlaloga said at a briefing.

SABC has however responded saying it will challenge the ruling in court.

The ban, which was deemed as censorship by workers of the company, civil society and general public evoked series of demonstrations in the country and also the hearing before Icasa.

The legal representative of SABC, Advocate Bantubonke Regent Tokota SC, has said at the hearing that the broadcaster had a responsibility to edit its reportage to protect children from viewing dangerous behaviour they might imitate and to discourage the public from engaging in violence.

In June, three senior journalists of the company were suspended for “disagreeing with an instruction during a diary meeting not to cover a campaign protest against censorship at the public broadcaster”.

A week after that, SABC’s Acting CEO, Jimi Matthews resigned for being “complicit in many decisions”.

“What is happening at the SABC is wrong and I can no longer be part of it,” he added.

Meanwhile, many South Africans are calling for the resignation of the Chief Operating Officer of the company, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who is blamed to be behind the policy.

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