South African public broadcaster SABC has taken issue with the statement released on 20 June by Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) in which it called on the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) to stand its ground regarding the ruling against the SABC on the Robert Gumede / Sam Sole issue.
In November last year the SABC flighted an insert in a prime time news programme in which businessman Gumede accused M&G journalist Sole of racism and corruption. Responding to a complaint lodged by M&G, the BCCSA ruled that the allegations were unsubstantiated and that the M&G was not given sufficient time in which to respond.
The BCCSA subsequently ordered the SABC to flight an apology during prime time, whereupon the SABC appealed the ruling. This was denied by the BCCSA. Latest news is that the SABC has now taken the matter to the Complaints Compliance Committee of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
The MMA’s statement calling on the BCCSA to stand its ground stresses that self regulation of the media is an important aspect of South Africa’s democracy. It noted its concern with the manner of the SABC’s reaction to the BCCSA ruling and the reported threat made by the SABC to withdraw from the BCCSA.
“It must also be noted that the strength of self regulation relies to a significant degree on all key members subscribing to it. Accordingly, were the SABC to leave it would be a significant blow not only to the BCCSA but self regulation in general,” reads the MMA statement.
On 21 June the SABC issued a statement rejecting the Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) statement, labeling it as “false, mischievous and misleading”. In the statement the SABC stressed that it has never at any stage considered withdrawing from the BCCSA.
The statement reads: “The Public Broadcaster said it subscribed to the BCCSA code and the important role the institution plays in regulating the Broadcasting industry. The SABC was of the view that its decision to appeal the BCCSA ruling touched at the very core of Media Freedom, the very same freedom that the MMA pretended to be its guardian and protector.”