Journalists need a licence to practice, says SABC COO. But doesn't he need a matric?

By admin
04 July 2014

Speaking at the annual Radio Days conference at Witwatersrand University yesterday, SABC acting chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng said journalists must have licence to practice like doctors and lawyers.

The public broadcaster's has done it again. Speaking at the annual Radio Days conference at Witwatersrand University yesterday, SABC acting chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng said journalists must have licence to practice like doctors and lawyers. He also said journalists who act unprofessionally should be stripped of their licences. "You know when you are a journalist, you are a professional journalist. If you don't have ethics and principles and you mislead on your reporting, like lawyers... if you commit any mistake they take your licence," he was quoted as saying. "We should do the same thing with journalists, that is what we need to do if we want to build South Africa.

"Journalists who act unprofessionally should be stripped of their licences."

In a statement, the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) condemned Motsoeneng’s proposal and said he had revealed his ignorance of journalistic practice in a democracy.

"It is unfortunate that the remarks come from a high-ranking official of public broadcaster, one of the biggest media houses in the country. The proposal is at odds with the freedom of speech which is enshrined in the Constitution.

"In many dictatorships and authoritarian countries journalists are forced to register and obtain licences to work. These governments do this so that they can control the gathering and publication of news by journalists. In such countries, publication of stories which disclose official misconduct, abuse of power, corruption, cronyism and nepotism would be described as unprofessional or harmful to the state and the licence of the journalists writing them would be withdrawn. "It is because a licence would be used as the tool of the authorities that journalists in democracies reject registration." According to Sanef, Motsoeneng has already demonstrated his ignorance of journalistic practice and principle by trying to prescribe to SABC journalists to broadcast 70 percent “good news” about the government with 30 percent relegated for the so-called “negative” news.

"It is unfortunate that the remarks come from a high-ranking official of public broadcaster."

In February, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released a report “When governance and ethics fail”, which found Motsoeneng's appointment irregular.

Among other things, his salary increased from R1.5m to R2.4m in one year. She also found he misrepresented his qualifications, that he passed matric, to the SABC, and recommended he be replaced.

In a recorded interview with the Public Protector, Motsoeneng admitted that he lied about having matric and admitted that he "made up symbols" for his fake matric certificate. He also recently came under fire after reports that traditional Venda chiefs gave him a wife, a cow and a calf on his visit to Thohoyandou, Limpopo last month.

- SAPA

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