New broadcasting bill offensive - activist

Johannesburg - Organisations challenging the new broadcasting amendment bill, promised to go as far as the Constitutional Courts if need be.

The bill, proposed by communications minister Faith Muthambi on Friday, would give her the final say on who is appointed to the broadcaster’s board.

Save Our SABC’s William Bird said he viewed the bill as a "disaster" and a blatant attempt to fundamentally undermine the public broadcaster by removing any role of parliament.

"It’s offensive to be introducing this bill. For cabinet to have approved it is just diabolical. It goes against everything the ANC represents," he said.

Bird said they would use all they have in their disposal to fight the bill. "We will be looking at our options and we are prepared to go to the Constitutional Courts to ensure that this bill does not get passed," he added.

Right2Know said this was another way the public mandate was being undermined by the minister and government.

Micah Reddy from Right2Know however said they saw the bill coming. "As soon as it came out we knew what it was about. This is another worrying sign that the public mandate of the SABC is being undermined.

"We have seen how the communication department went to extraordinary levels to protect SABC Chief Operating Officer [COO] Hlaudi Motsoeneng. This man has zero respect for journalist. He demands sunshine journalism. This further entrenches the department's control while crippling the SABC. The SABC is haemorrhaging left right and centre. It’s an embarrassment," Reddy told News24.

The nine non-executive members of the Board must be appointed by the President on the advice of the Minister, the bill says. As it stands, Parliament’s communications committee interviewed and shortlisted candidates, before presenting the president with a list.

With the new bill, the minister will advice the president on the appointments. This she will do with the help of a nomination committee, appointed by the ministry.

The bill also reduces the number of non-executive board members from 12 to nine.

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