The SABC acted properly by pulling a Democratic Alliance election campaign advertisement from television broadcast, it said on Tuesday.
“We acted properly,” attorney Ronnie Bokwa told members of the Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) at the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) headquarters in Sandton, north of Johannesburg.
DA leader Helen Zille and the SABC’s acting COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng were present at the hearing.
The DA laid a complaint with Icasa on Saturday after the SABC failed to broadcast its election advertisement.
The “Ayisafani” TV advert was pulled off the air last week, along with five radio advertisements.
The advert shows the DA’s Gauteng premier candidate and spokesman, Mmusi Maimane, standing in front of a mirror talking about the current state of the country. He says life today is better than it was 20 years ago and gives credit to great leaders who he believes have taken the country forward.
“But since 2008 we’ve seen President Jacob Zuma’s ANC. An ANC that is corrupt. An ANC for the connected few. An ANC that is taking us backwards. An ANC where more than 1.4 million people have lost jobs.” Maimane then asks Zuma where the jobs are.
The SABC did not broadcast the advertisement and gave the DA a letter. In it, SABC acting group CEO Tian Olivier informed the party that it would not be able to broadcast the advert on radio or television on four grounds — that one of the adverts incited violence, that some gave false allegations about members of other political parties, that according to the Advertising Standards Authority one product could not attack another to promote itself, and that no advert could attack specific candidates or a person directly.
It said the party could submit an amended version of the advertisement.
Bokwa said the Democratic Alliance’s advert included a part where a picture appeared of a police official pointing his firearm at two members of the public wearing blue shirts.
The voice along with the picture said: “We have seen the police force killing our people.”
Bokwa said the use of language and the visuals used were inflammatory and could not be seen as freedom of speech.
He said the current climate in the country and the media reports of police brutality portrayed a negative image of the police.
“From a responsible broadcaster’s point of view, we felt to flight the advert would create the impression that there is an imminent threat of violence.”
Bokwa said he had an issue with the use of the word “our”.
“Does it mean police are killing the DA’s people?” he asked.
The advert was flighted three times before being pulled off air.
Bokwa said it was only after a member of the public wrote a letter to the broadcaster complaining about the advert, that the editorial committee reviewed it.
The advert had gone through two committees before being pulled by a third.
A member of the CCC asked whether the broadcaster had a checklist for all adverts aired on the broadcaster’s channels.
The SABC asked for an adjournment before responding.
The CCC — established in terms of the Icasa Act, is an independent statutory body empowered to adjudicate, hear and make a finding on all matters referred to it, not only by the authority, but also by the public.