Free-to-air rival riles S. African pubcaster

ASA already forced e.tv to withdraw ad mocking SABC

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s only independent commercial free-to-air broadcaster, e.tv, has the South African Broadcasting Corp. hot under the collar over disparaging ads on the SABC’s coverage of the April 14 general election.

In March, the Advertising Standards Authority forced e.tv to withdraw an ad mocking the SABC, and the channel is facing yet another complaint from the pubcaster after a newspaper advertisement, in the form of a ballot paper, which defines the SABC as a “state broadcaster.”

The SABC has complained to the ASA that “the use of ‘state broadcaster’ is misleading and disparaging in a way that it creates an impression that the SABC is still trapped in the apartheid era and that they are serving the interests of the government.”

The SABC said e.tv also did not ask for permission to use its trademark.

E.tv, in a letter to the ASA, has defended the ad, saying it was “intended to inform the public that e.tv has the most informative and entertaining line-up on election day.”

The reference to “state broadcaster” was “reasonably based on public perception,” the letter said. “It pokes fun at the SABC in that it reflects SABC programming as a test pattern. This is an allusion to the widespread perception that the SABC lacks editorial independence.”

Paul Setsetse, general manager, corporate communications, at the SABC said the pubcaster would not do the same to e.tv. “This is not the way in which the SABC operates. We have an ethical way of doing business and would not use these tactics to gain viewers.”

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