Reports on SABC editorial policy are misleading: Communications Minister

Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi has noted the misleading reports on the approval of the SABC editorial policy, says the Department of Communications.

In a statement on Monday, the department said as per the Broadcasting Act, the Minister is not required to sign the approval of the SABC editorial policy, only the board members are allowed to do so as per the Act.

Section 6(3) of the Broadcasting Act stipulates that, in terms of the Charter of the Corporation, the SABC, in pursuit of its objectives and in the exercise of its powers, enjoys freedom of expression and journalistic, creative and programming independence as enshrined in the Constitution.

In addition, section (5)(a) provides that the Board must prepare and submit to ICASA, not later than three months, policies that will ensure compliance with the SABC’s licence conditions, among others, including the News Editorial Policy, local content, universal service and access policy.

The department said the revised SABC policies have been approved by the SABC Board and presented to the Minister.

“In the preparation of the policy, the Board ensured that there was sufficient public participation and public input were sought in development of the policy in line with the Act.

“The revised editorial policy is currently being implemented. Furthermore, ICASA was notified about the amendments of the policy as part of SABC’s continued role of upholding the latter of the law. A process of public consultation was undertaken as part of the initial review process in 2013 and early 2014,” said the department.

It added that stakeholder engagements were held with more than 30 organisations and interest groups from across the country and this was followed by 17 public hearings, where each province hosted at least one.

Almost 2 000 people attended these hearings. The public consultations were advertised on SABC platforms and in selected print media and. The SABC received 216 written submissions from individuals and organisations.

In the reply to a Parliamentary question dated 26 February 2016 from Democratic Alliance, Minister Muthambi said: “The revised SABC editorial policy has been approved by the SABC Board”.

“It is misleading to insinuate that Minister Muthambi signed the revised SABC editorial policy, and it is incorrect to say Minister Muthambi secretly approved the SABC editorial policy,” said the department.

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Reports on SABC editorial policy are misleading: Communications Minister