On 15 May the Democratic Alliance (DA) accused South African public service broadcaster SABC of bias for refusing it live coverage in the run up to the Local Government Elections on 18 May in favour of a two hour live broadcast of the ANC Siyanqoba Rally in Johannesburg
DA MP James Selfe said in a statement that the SABC’s decision was in violation of the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act because it was not equitable or consistent. The statement stressed 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. A two-hour live crossing is incomparable with a hard news story on a bulletin’.
In response, GE of News and Current Affairs Phil Molefe said on 16 May that the SABC’s decision to cover the rally live was based on the newsworthiness of the event, which was the biggest political rally since 1994.
“The rally was attended by more than 91 000 supporters and linked to other ANC provincial rallies. We are satisfied that the SABC’s overall coverage of this election was fair, consistent, and equitable. In fact, the DA enjoyed greater coverage in proportion to its current representation in local government. It needs to be borne in mind that the principle of equitable coverage does not mean equal coverage,” stated Molefe.