South Africa’s official opposition party said SABC has again, refused to air their election ads. The refusal to air DA’s election Ads according to the party is the “latest example in a string of cases that patently illustrates how” the public broadcaster has been hijacked. BuzzSouthAfrica learned that SABC told DA that it has no available slots for political advertisements at the moment due to delays in the IEC’s work with respect to the elections.
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DA, however, believes the excuse is “nothing but a poor excuse by the SABC in order to censor the DA’s political advertisement” which “has become standard during election time.”
The party said they and other political parties are well within their rights to air party political advertisements at this time as the election date has been proclaimed.
With that, the party said they’ll be lodging a formal complaint with ICASA to stop SABC’s abuse of power attempting to censor them and protect the ruling party from criticism.
ICASA refers to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa whose duties include:
- Licensing broadcasters, signal distributors, providers of telecommunication services and postal services
- Making regulations
- Imposing license conditions
- Planning, assigning, controlling, enforcing and managing the frequency spectrum
- Ensuring international and regional co-operation
- Ensuring the efficient allocation of numbers
- Ensuring interoperability of networks
- Receiving and resolving complaints
The DA’s arguments that political parties should be allowed to broadcast advertisements during an election period, therefore, falls within ICASA’s duties.
The DA continued their argument against the SABC’s perceived slight in this wise;
“The commencement of the election period and the right of political parties to air their advertisements have been acknowledged by all other television and radio stations…The SABC is the only broadcaster that refuses to air the DA’s election Ads.”
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The party then asserted that it would not stand by idly while their right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the South African constitution is trampled upon. They said that South Africans would indeed see through the “thinly-veiled plot” to block them from the full range of offerings in the elections of which the DA is a part of. They called out their offer for South Africans to include “stopping corruption, creates jobs and delivering better services for all.”
The Democratic Alliance is known as South Africa’s chief opposition party to the ANC. Over the years, the party has continued to gain ground as the people have gotten increasingly fed up with the ruling ANC and, especially, the antics of their President, Jacob Zuma. Despite the increasing dissatisfaction, the ANC still wields a whole lot of power in South Africa. One of the only ways that the DA can hope to continue dislodging the ANC is to utilize the power of the media.
SABC has an incredible reach in South Africa. Currently, that reach stands at over 20-million South Africans. These 20 million South Africans are reached through 19 radio stations and three television stations. SABC viewers spend an average of 3 hours per day in SABC TV’s company. Our listeners spend 22 hours listening to SABC radio. Without the benefit of advertising on SABC, the DA would miss out on quite a number of South Africans even if they try to get their message out by other routes.
In 2014, a report focused on the seeming bias that the SABC had towards the ANC. Project Kindle alleged that a market research report commissioned by the SABC in 2013 was buried because of the results recorded. The results showed that South Africans believe that SABC news bulletins are biased towards the ANC. Some of the findings were;
- Majority of respondents felt that the SABC’s news is biased towards the ANC
- The perception of political bias and pro-ANC political reporting creates low credibility of political reporting among SABC News viewers
- Most consumers seek other news sources to find balanced political views of events such as Marikana or President Zuma’s compound at Nkandla
- SABC 1 is believed to be the more biased of the SABC’s three free-to-air TV channels
- There is a perception that politicians make decisions on content rather than the editors.
The DA may be suggesting that with the refusal to air their election ads the ANC is showing this same bias towards the ruling party.