SABC protects editorial independence

Committee to be set up to review bill

JOHANNESBURG — The South African Broadcasting Corp., has reached a compromise with the government on controversial clauses in the Broadcasting Amendment Bill which critics feared would threaten the pubcaster’s editorial independence.

Both sides met Sept. 6 to discuss the clause stating the pubcaster must “seek government’s approval of its policies governing the exercise of accurate, fair and accountable reporting.”

A joint statement issued after the meeting affirmed the authority of the SABC board “over all policymaking processes and decisions.”

Robert Nkuna, spokesman for communications minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, said the minister was willing to remove the clause, provided a new way could be found to ensure the SABC fulfilled its public broadcasting mandate.

SABC board chairman Vincent Maphai says: “We expressed our concern that the approval requirement would undermine the independence of the board and the newsroom. Editorial independence from political and commercial pressures lies at the heart of public broadcasting.”

The two parties agreed to set up a committee to review sections of the draft bill.

The parliamentary committee on communications will hold public hearings this week, and the government hopes to have the new law in place by the end of the year.

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