Cope laying complaint against SABC
Cape Town - The Congress of the People (Cope) is lodging an official complaint with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) against the SABC.
Cope whip Juli Kilian said in a statement that this was on account of the public broadcaster's "editorial censoring" of Cope's election programme and in particular the party leader Mosiuoa Lekota's programme.
The SABC would also be reported to the Independent Communications Authority of SA for transgressions of its public broadcasting licence agreement, she said.
Cope was the third largest political party in the country and was contesting the third highest number of seats (5 929) in municipalities across South Africa in the May 18 municipal elections.
Kilian said: "There can be no doubt that Cope is one of only three parties contesting the local government elections on a national scale and is entitled to equitable coverage during election programmes and during prime time television and radio broadcasts."
Apart from instances when the SABC ignored Cope events and campaign activities, even in those instances where reporters and camera crews did cover Cope events, the SABC's "editorial censors" either ignored the inputs or relegated the events to fleeting coverage on off-prime time news bulletins.
"Mr Lekota's sound bytes and interviews were largely censored out or limited to split second flashes without carrying the essence of the interview or message involved. On occasion Afrikaans sound bytes were screened in Sotho news casts or vice versa."
Kilian listed a number of examples of "editorial bias logged over the past three days".
These included a media conference addressed by Lekota on the murder of Andries Tatane in Ficksburg.
Notwithstanding the fact that Tatane was a Cope member, coverage of the media conference in Bloemfontein as well as the live interview recorded by SABC TV was "edited out of prime time news bulletins".
Notwithstanding the presence of a SABC TV crew in Petrusville during Lekota's programme in the Northern Cape on Friday, no footage appeared on the SABC's prime time news casts on Friday evening.
SAfm staged a live election broadcast from the North West Province where Cope was contesting 565 seats, without affording Cope an opportunity to participate in the election programme.
Saturday's SABC news prime time bulletins contained extensive footage of the Freedom Front Plus and ANC, but only a brief glimpse of Cope's manifesto launch in Umtata, again censoring out Lekota's recorded interview, she said.
"Editorial bias and/or prejudice, ignores the fact that Cope is potentially the leading party or senior coalition partner in the majority of municipalities in the Northern Cape as well as some urban centres such as Mandela Bay Metro and others.
"Since regional parties such as the Inkatha Freedom Party..., the United Democratic Movement and the FF Plus - essentially a small niche party - were afforded live coverage of their election manifestoes, Cope, as a national player, will insist on live coverage on SABC TV of an election event to be arranged within the next three weeks," Kilian said.