Nipple Stars - Censorship for Dummies

2016-06-20 12:43

Much like the South African Post Office, which I only realized still existed when I read somewhere they had downed tools (satchels) and embarked on a strike, I was equally astounded to hear that South Africa still has a public broadcaster. The SABC, would you believe, is apparently broadcasting itself away as we speak from somewhere in Auckland Park in Johannesburg. Only, it turns out, it is not the public that it serves at all. Well, not anymore in any event.

The old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity couldn’t be more wrong in the case of the beleaguered institution. And given the SABC’s recent announcements, where they undertook to be the voice of the ANC ruling party, and where they committed to the deliberate boycott of any news that might reflect negatively on the ruling party (I might have paraphrased the statement slightly), one wouldn’t be remiss in feeling a strange sense of de ja vu. And not at all in a good way. And it doesn’t stop there. Presenters are not to even focus on the Headlines from daily newspapers, in case, God forbid, some actual news might slip through and then, well, people would be informed. And no one wants that.

The positive in all this (glass half full) is that for those at the SABC who have some recollection of a life prior to 1994, the adjustment must be much less of a challenge. I am sure that like riding a bicycle, the arrogance of censorship is something that one hardly forgets, even given the years between the 2 regimes. One also wonders if (just in case) the censorship manuals of the Apartheid Government weren’t stored somewhere (off site) so that now that the time is right, the applicable box can be returned to the building, the “Censorship for Dummys” folders removed, dusted off and uploaded to the cloud. Implementation of the systems must be much simpler, there being little need to reinvent the wheel (so to speak). The “Nats” had after all, almost perfected it.

The smug justification that the current announcement of censorship is for the good of the public, that violence begets violence and that we don’t know better, wont convince anyone.

And that is because there is no hiding away from it. It is exactly what it looks like. The SABC, by accepting the role of government mouthpiece, like the Zimbabwean press, has lost all credibility. It will lose advertising revenue, it will lose the talented people who have remained through many difficult periods and it will ultimately fail. It will be confined, as it deserves, to the rubbish bin of history where it will keep company with the SABC of old, with the censorship of the past, and with the stick-on-stars that covered the naked nipples of our shameful past.

It is a disgrace to the history of the country, and a slap in the face to the men and woman who gave their freedom and their lives for the sake of a free press. It will be yet another blemish on a government who continues, through lack of courage, through corruption and greed, to laugh in the face of the millions of citizens who they are employed to serve.

I can’t remember the last time I posted a letter or I watched a program on the SABC (not since MNet introduced open hours). But there are many in the country who cannot afford the private offerings of alternate service providers and who rely on the broadcaster to be an arbiter of truth. For them, and for all of us, as we are pushed closer to the abyss, I wonder if paying your TV License is still “The Right Thing To Do’?

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