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Foes: SABC biased toward prez speech

World Brief

The South African Broadcasting Corp. has already become embroiled in its first controversy of 2004 over its live broadcast Sunday of President Thabo Mbeki’s speech at the ruling African National Congress’ election manifesto launch.

Three opposition political parties claim SABC broke its pubcasting mandate by becoming an ANC mouthpiece and urged the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to force SABC to give similar coverage to other parties.

Icasa rejected the complaint because it monitors broadcasts only during an election period. An election date has yet to be set but is expected to be March or April.

Head of SABC television news Jimi Matthews initially justified the broadcast, saying it was a major political event in which Mbeki made his “first major address to the nation” of 2004.

Matthews has now acknowledged some concerns, suggesting the speech “did not live up to expectations.”

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