Organisations lodge complaints over SABC's 'one-sided' Ace Magashule interview

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Ace Magashule on the campaign trail in Soweto. Picture: Rosetta Msimango
Ace Magashule on the campaign trail in Soweto. Picture: Rosetta Msimango
  • Media Monitoring Africa and Support Public Broadcasting Coalition have lodged complaints against the SABC.
  • This follows a controversial interview with ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
  • According to the organisations, the interview was one-sided.

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) and the SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOS) have lodged complaints over an SABC interview with ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, describing it as "one-sided" and "self-interested".

The two not-for-profit organisations have lodged the complaints with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA), the Press Council of South Africa and the SABC itself.

The interview was conducted by two SABC journalists on 18 November and was initially broadcast on the show The Full View.

In letters to each of the three bodies, SOS national coordinator Duduetsang Makuse and MMA director William Bird said the journalists violated the BCCSA's codes of conduct, the Press Code and the SABC's editorial policies.

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In the letter to the Press Council, Makuse and Bird claim the public broadcaster violated, among others, the following clauses:

  • Clause 1.1 of the Press Code, which requires the media to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly;
  • Clause 1.2 which requires news to be presented in context and in a balanced manner without any intentional or negligent departure from the facts, whether by distortion, exaggeration or misrepresentation, material omissions, or summarisation.

Writing to the SABC's general manager for policy and regulatory affairs, SOS and MMA state that the journalists also went against clause 5.3.2 "which requires the SABC to not allow… political, state… and personal considerations to influence the SABC's editorial decisions".

In the interview about retrenchments at the SABC, Magashule said that he didn't know why some of the board members were so "intransigent".

"I think they show some arrogance," he said.

"I don't know why they are arrogant, because it is clear what they want to do is to commercialise [and] privatise the SABC, which is against the ANC position."

The organisation said that in their view, the interview published online transgressed each and all of the above clauses of the code in that it was conducted in a manner that made it clear that the journalists were not complying with the requirements of the code.

The groups added that the "one-sided, self-interested interview style and inflammatory language used by the interviewers" undermine the Press Code, the BCCSA's codes of conduct and the SABC's editorial policies.

"We think that even if it could be argued that the broadcast constituted 'comment' which is, in our view, doubtful, given the fact that it is an in-depth interview with the ruling party’s secretary-general on what was a breaking news topic, the commentary was not made on facts truly stated or fairly indicated and referred to as required in terms of the code."

News24 reached out to the SABC for comment over two days. The broadcaster is yet to respond. Comment will be added once received.

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