The Big Debate moves to eNCA

2013-11-13 15:59

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The Big Debate current-affairs talk show with host Siki Mgabadeli, which was censored and dumped by the SABC, is moving to eNCA (DStv 403) with a new season of 10 episodes.

It will start on Tuesday, November 19 at 9pm.

Episodes of the new second season will start at a slightly later date on eNCA’s sister channel, the free-to-air commercial channel e.tv.

The Sabido-run 24-hour TV news channel is picking up and taking over the public current-affairs show after the SABC’s acting chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, unilaterally ordered The Big Debate off the air a month ago just before it was supposed to start its second season on SABC2.

Motsoeneng also ordered all repeats of The Big Debate to be stopped. The current-affairs talk show had already filmed episodes by the time it was supposed to start and continued to film episodes.

The SABC was mum on its decision to pull The Big Debate, but did admit it was the public broadcaster’s fault in that the SABC “incorrectly commissioned” The Big Debate and allowed the SABC newsroom to be “compromised”.

The decision led to public outcry and was followed by an organised public protest at the end of October at the SABC’s Auckland Park headquarters, triggered by growing concerns within South Africa’s civil society about the suppression of freedom of speech at the SABC.

Critics are once again pointing fingers at how far the public broadcaster has strayed from its public-broadcasting mandate.

Although the pick-up solves one issue – returning a relevant, hard-hitting current-affairs talk show to the air in South Africa – it does not address the SABC’s ongoing erosion of quality current-affairs programming and unbiased news delivery ahead of South Africa’s next general election in 2014.

Upcoming topics to be discussed on The Big Debate in the new season will include public transport and government corruption.

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