A summary of Icasa's SABC ruling

2016-07-12 15:31

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) ruled on Monday that the SABC must withdraw its resolution to ban the broadcasting of violent protests.

News24 is in possession of the full 22-page ruling. 

Here is a closer look at Icasa's findings, compiled from public hearings held on June 24, regarding the allegations of "censorship" at the SABC following the broadcaster's decision not to air certain visuals.

The full document has also been embedded in the article below.


The SABC made its decision to ban the broadcasting of violent protests in a statement on May 26.

A joint complaint was laid with Icasa by Media Monitoring Africa, the Save Our SABC coalition and the Freedom of Expression Institute on June 1.

Public hearings were held on June 24, where the complainants and the SABC made their respective cases.


After having considered the legal argument from both parties and the affidavits filed, the Complaints Compliance Committee (CCC) - Icasa's complaints commission - found the following:

- The findings were made based on the SABC's original statement sent to staff, against what the Broadcasting Act, the SABC's licence conditions, and the Constitution have to say on the matter;

- The SABC's decision went much further than a statement of broad policy. It amounted to a direct order to the newsroom to exclude material of a certain category;

- The duties of the SABC are directed at keeping the listening and viewing public informed so that informed choices may be made as to their daily lives. An informed, constitutional public, must have the full opportunity to see and hear what is in the public interest to know;

- The SABC decision prohibited, in absolute terms, that the burning of public property be shown on television. That is a matter of public interest;

- Even if it were true that the SABC decision was not traditional pre-censorship, the order blocks information of a certain kind categorically, which, according to a similar 2009 court precedent regarding images of a sexual nature, was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court;

- Section 6 of the Broadcasting Act "enjoins the SABC to encourage the development of South African expression by providing a wide range of programming that offers a plurality of views and a variety of news, information and analysis from a South African point of view, and advances the national and public interest";

- The SABC's decision places an absolute ban on a subject. A subject, as such, may never be blocked from SABC television or radio - South Africa is not, as in the apartheid era, a dictatorship. The Broadcasting Code does, indeed, place certain limits on the screening of violence, but that Code may only be applied under certain provisions. This provision clearly does not provide for an absolute ban on violence;

- The SABC is subject to the provisions contained in its own licenses. In terms of its licence conditions, the SABC is required in the production of its news and current affairs to: meet the highest standards of journalistic professionalism and practices;

- The SABC's decision in the matter amounts to a categorical blocking of the public's right to information, in conflict with the Broadcasting Act and the public interest, the Constitution and the licence conditions of the SABC;

"Our conclusion is that the SABC has acted outside its powers in taking the decision as published in the 26 May statement.

"Ultimately, one of the core values in terms of our Constitution is legality and the decision of the SABC did not comply with this central constitutional value."


The order by the SABC was invalid from its inception. 
1) The Complaint is accordingly upheld;
2) The order by the SABC is in conflict with its duties as a public broadcaster and was invalid a) in terms of the Broadcasting Act 1999, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, and b) in terms of its licences.


1) The Council of Icasa directs the South African Broadcasting Corporation to withdraw its resolution as published in its statement of 26 May 2016 as a whole retrospectively as from the date when the resolution, as published in the above statement was taken;

2) The SABC Board Chairperson must confirm in writing to the Council via the CCC within seven calendar days from the date on which the order is emailed, that the above resolution was taken as ordered;

3) The recommendation does not, as argued for by the Complainants, include an order concerning the training of journalists. This is an internal matter for the SABC to decide on and does not fall within the jurisdiction of Icasa.

The above order is legally enforceable.

View the full 22-page document below.


Read more on:    icasa  |  sabc  |  media

Inside News24


Matric Results are coming soon!

Notify me when results become available

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.