ANC wants parliamentary sittings back on TV

2014-08-03 15:00

Debates in the National Assembly will once again be broadcast live on one of the SABC channels – if the ANC has its way.

The ANC caucus, which held a two-day lekgotla last weekend, has resolved to approach the public broadcaster to request that it reinstate live broadcasts of debates

in the National Assembly that were stopped years ago when the SABC started experiencing a cash crunch.

“The SABC must reinstate its live broadcasts of afternoon parliamentary sittings to ensure debates are followed by the majority of South Africans,” reads the resolution.

The governing party also wants Parliament to set up a free-to-air channel and a radio station, where all the business of the institution – including committee meetings – are broadcast 24 hours a day.

Parliament already runs a channel on the DStv network. But the ANC wants to explore moving the channel to a free-to-air network, calling it an “inviting possibility”.

Also on the list of ANC demands is the roll-out across the entire precinct of free Wi-Fi, which will be available to everyone who visits Parliament.

ANC caucus spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the resolutions on communication were aimed at involving the public and familiarising them with the business of Parliament. He said they would communicate the resolutions “through the relevant channels”.

The office of parliamentary spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs said the resolution surrounding the establishment of a free-to-air channel was interesting, but still had to be discussed by the legislature.

“Parliament strives to facilitate public involvement in its legislative and other processes.

“A free-to-air parliamentary ­television channel is certainly an inviting possibility.

“However, a decision about the channel and the form it would take is yet to be considered by the fifth democratic Parliament.”

The parliamentary channel was carried at no cost on DStv as it was part of MultiChoice’s corporate social responsibility initiative, said the communications office.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the SABC screened important pronouncements only, like the budget speech, the state of the nation speech and special sittings live from Parliament.

He said it also broadcast View From the House, a daily morning programme that summarises the previous day’s debates, and committee meetings.

The ANC request would have to be discussed at the corporation, said Kganyago.

“We will have to engage with the head of channels and the head of news because even within the SABC, it will have to be a discussion.

“We do a schedule based on research, so we will have to look at it and consider the schedules, and then we can respond.”

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