SABC not censoring talk show call-ins - Muthambi

BY CHARL BOSCH - MARCH 2, 2016

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has brushed aside allegations that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) had barred its talk radio stations from accepting phone-calls in the run-up to the local government elections.

Responding to a question from Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Communications Phumzile van Damme in Parliament on Tuesday, Muthambi said the reports, which according to CityPress were made so as to prevent callers from complaining about the African National Congress (ANC), were “devoid of the truth” and “incorrect”.

“The SABC has always maintained that its current affairs shows be handled by the news department. And I want to assure you that the SABC will always ensure that there is responsible reporting and freedom of speech,” she said.

“It is common [knowledge] that the SABC does not encourage the use of their platforms to sow hatred and racism”.

The broadcaster has meanwhile come under renewed criticism after the Freedom Front Plus on Tuesday alleged that its leader, Pieter Mulder, had been barred from participating in a current affairs show on Afrikaans station, RSG.

According to the party, Mulder, who often calls-in to voice his opinion on the show Praat Saam, had been told in a letter to refrain from phoning until after the elections in August.

“In practice only certain political parties and individuals, such as myself, are discriminated against. We all pay license fees to make it possible for the public broadcaster to accommodate all views, not only those views that suit the SABC,” Mulder said in a statement.

“On what grounds can the SABC then take such a decision to arbitrarily ban certain individuals to participate in phone-in programmes?”

Last week, listeners from Metro FM hit out at the station after one of its presenters refused to take calls while interviewing a businessman, who had reported links to the ANC.

“There is nothing new about what we are doing. We have done that before. We are not talking ANC here. Politics is not ANC,” SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago told the paper the weekend.