South African Broadcasting Minister Pallo Jordan June 8 sounded the death knell for a government plan to use weekly primetime South African Broadcasting Corp. television slots to broadcast statements.
Speaking to Parliament in Cape Town, Jordan said the proposal, which has the support of President Nelson Mandela, will “break down confidence in the impartiality of our public broadcasting services.”
Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, who originated the plan last month, had justified it by saying the government was unhappy with the way it was being presented in the media and that it wanted to present its own version.
The suggestion was met by a howl of protest from opposition politicians, who warned it could be abused for propaganda purposes and who said it should be only granted if all political parties are given equal airtime.
Jordan last week sided with the protesters, saying it was “imperative” that the “boundaries between government information services and public service broadcasting remain clear and very distinct.”