The SABC has banned open lines on its radio talk shows in a bid to stop anti-ANC government callers from voicing their issues in the build-up to local government elections. This is according to reports in the Sunday Times and City Press.
The Sunday Times reported that the order to stop listeners calling in was given by SABC radio general manager Leuba Ramakgolo.
The City Press said it saw an email from Ramakgolo which said it was an editorial decision SABC radio took, and should not be seen as “canning”.
In a separate email, Metro FM programme manager Tony Soglo said this was to protect the station and the SABC against anyone using the platform for their own benefit, such as electioneering.
Open lines would be restored after the local government elections.
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago told the City Press that people were being malicious or misunderstanding the instruction.
“We are saying that, for this period, avoid doing open line if you are not a current affairs show. You are creating a situation where anybody can say anything and that’s when issues of politics are then sneaked in during open line,” said Kganyago.
Instead, the SABC wants political issues to be handled by news and current affairs shows where “journalists equipped to handle the issues” are at the microphone.
Kganyago said there is nothing new about the ban on open lines – the SABC has done it before.
“Now we are being proactive about it to warn them against open lines during this period.”
MetroFM listeners shocked
“Listeners of MetroFM Talk were shocked this week when host Rams Mabote did not invite them to comment on any issue they deemed important,” the Sunday Times report stated.
Listeners complained on Twitter about the snub, with an SABC employee stating that the current affairs show drew a lot of complaints about the ANC.
Another SABC source said this was not the first time the broadcaster tried to censor callers.
“SABC bosses have over the past few months complained about current affairs shows and warned about balance when discussing politics,” stated the report.
The full reports are in the Sunday Times and City Press of 28 February 2016.