SA should set up new state broadcaster - panel

Cape Town - South Africa should set up its own 24-hour television news channel that would focus on conveying the government’s message and achievements, an advisory panel has recommended.

The channel proposed in a report compiled by the National Communications Task Team would be in addition to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), which is a public rather than a state broadcaster, Donald Liphoko, the acting director-general of the government communication service, said on Friday.

“Communications Minister Faith Muthambi is examining the report and it is her intention to release it for public comment,” Liphoko said by phone from Cape Town.

The proposal to establish the new channel was reported earlier Friday by the Johannesburg-based Mail & Guardian newspaper.

Creating a new television channel would signal an attempt by the state to secure direct control over media coverage rather than a modern, communications management approach expected in a democracy, said Anton Harber, a journalism professor at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

“State media has a poor record of success,” he said in an e-mailed response to questions. “They already have the SABC, which has by far the biggest audience in the country, so it is hard to see how you can justify more media until you are running existing public media effectively.”

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