New report slams SABC’s compliance

2012-09-08 17:12

The SABC this week rejected the findings of an independent report that said it is failing to meet its mandates when it comes to local TV shows.

But another report released this week confirms the SABC has, in the past, failed to meet its requirements – and that is based largely on its own data.

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has provided City Press with its latest compliance report of the SABC, covering a year of broadcasts between 2009 and 2010, at the height of the SABC’s financial crisis.

The damning report, only just being released, concludes: “The SABC has not complied with various clauses of its licence across all three channels. This finding is based on the SABC’s own submissions as well as according to monitoring that the authority conducted.”

The regulator’s spokesperson, Jubie Matlou, said Icasa would “take the matter to the complaints and compliance committee to take a decision on whether there should be a penalty once the SABC has defended itself”.

According to the Icasa Act, this penalty could take the form of a fine ranging from R100 000 to R1 million.

Matlou stressed, however, that the regulator was only able to independently monitor the SABC for six months of the year, and that a full year would be needed to make a strong enough case against the SABC.

“Icasa does not currently have the capacity to monitor for such a long period,” he said.

SABC spokesperson Kaiser Kganyago flatly denied the broadcaster had ever failed to meet its licence conditions and urged City Press to “fully go through the report and understand the information in its correct context”.

This week, he slammed Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), which conducted independent research into the broadcaster.

Kganyago released a statement saying the SABC was “disappointed” in the “dubious” set of methods used to “grandstand” in MMA’s report.

MMA’s William Bird told City Press he was just as disappointed in the SABC, which “chose to focus on some very limited and inaccurate interpretations of our report – and not actually address any of the very concerning issues that are raised”.

According to the Icasa compliance report, SABC1 is the channel faring the worst.

It broadcast too much in English and not enough in official languages during prime time.

It fared even more dismally in marginalised languages, and did not provide enough sign language.

Outside of prime time, though, it wholly exceeded its mandates for the use of official languages.

But it failed to meet any current affairs targets as well as enough minutes of news, children’s shows and drama outside prime time.

SABC2 failed to comply on official and marginalised languages, on current affairs in prime time, as well as several genres outside of prime viewing.

SABC3 also failed to meet several local-content mandates.

The report states that while the SABC was, at the time, covering events of national interest, engaging in training and providing audited financial statements, it had broken the rules on advertising – creating more slots per hour than allowed.

Icasa’s report failed to record whether SABC1 and SABC2 were meeting their overall mandate of 55% local content. Kganyago said they were, and that the troubled broadcaster was overperforming in this regard.

Matlou said a tender was out for a service provider to support and maintain a R10-million, 24/7 monitoring system that would enhance its compliance reports.

There have been only two of these reports since 1998, even though the regulator is meant to provide one yearly.

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