Cape Town - The SABC operated within broadcasting legislation and the Constitution when it decided not to broadcast violent protests, said communications minister Faith Muthambi.
Muthambi and a delegation from the SABC appeared before parliament’s portfolio committee on communications on Tuesday where she was giving an account of the state of affairs at the national broadcaster.
She cited a number of rules and sections in the Broadcasting Act and Constitution, which allow the public broadcaster to reach a balance between freedom of expression and the incitement of violence.
“The corporation is encouraged to ensure the development of freedom of expression by providing a wide range of programming that reflects opinions, ideas and values,” Muthambi said.
“But in line with the public broadcasting mandate the corporation also has a role to ensure it contributes towards nation-building and cohesion.”
She added that the decision not to air violent protests were in line with the Constitution, which places limits on the freedom of expression. “Freedom of expression doesn’t extend to the propaganda of war,” Muthambi said.
The SABC has the power to limit freedom of expression where it contravenes legislation, which includes limiting the screening of violence.
Muthambi also denied that the SABC unilaterally changed its editorial policy without engaging in public participation or notifying the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).
According to her, the SABC made extensive provision for public comments on the broadcaster’s draft editorial policies.
“We embarked on a process of public consultation in 2013 and stakeholder meetings were held with more than 30 organisations. Almost 2 000 people attended the hearings and we received 216 submissions on the draft policies.”
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