Coronavirus | SABC backs its programming after ANC-led alliance questions output

SABC building in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. (Veli Nhlapo/Gallo Images)
SABC building in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. (Veli Nhlapo/Gallo Images)

The SABC has defended its programming after a letter penned by the ANC-led tripartite alliance emerged criticising the public broadcaster for "not fulfilling its mandate" during the national lockdown to halt the spread of Covid-19.

Speaking to News24, SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo said the public broadcaster was firmly committed to adhering to and delivering diligently on its mandate.

"Critically, during this period the public broadcaster's role is to ensure that millions of South Africans are provided with important and credible information regarding Covid-19 across television, radio and digital platforms. This is consistent with nationwide efforts to reduce Covid-19 infections and curb the spread of the coronavirus," she said.

On Tuesday, News24 reported that the trio of ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, SACP first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila and Cosatu's general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa, raising the matter of the public broadcaster's content during this period.

In their letter, the tripartite alliance secretariat said the SABC must marshal all resources at its disposal and play a leading role in the fight against the pandemic.

"In particular, the people need more educational, informative and consistent broadcasting on Covid-19 including live coverage of key events on SABC free-to-air television stations," the secretariat said.

READ | Hundreds of Post Offices remain open during lockdown – but you won’t be getting any mail

Seapolelo, however, denied that not enough informative content was on its channels, citing the SABC's partnership with the education department to broadcast a learner support campaign. The drive is geared at delivering educational programming during the lockdown period.

'Displace revenue-generating programming'

The first phase of the campaign is being broadcast on SABC1, with the second phase to be rolled out on SABC2 and SABC3, Seapolelo said.

She added news, current affairs and informative programming have been extended on free-to-air television channels and radio stations to ensure that the public is adequately informed about the coronavirus pandemic.

"In the interest of the country and in fulfillment of its mandate, the SABC has had to displace revenue-generating programming across platforms to accommodate all public announcements and media briefings relating to the Covid-19 pandemic," she said.

"These are now carried live on the SABC's free-to-air television channels, the SABC News channel, radio stations and digital platforms.

READ | Here’s what SA businesses are doing to survive – from moving pay day to cutting hours

"Consistently, SABC News journalists are deployed across the country to deliver the essential service of informing the public about all developments regarding the pandemic.

"As the SABC, we welcome engagement with and feedback from our stakeholders, and we would like to reiterate our unwavering commitment to providing citizens with valuable and factual news and information during this period."

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