The SABC’s Afrikaans radio station, Radio Sonder Grense, has banned Dr. Pieter Mulder, the leader of the Freedom Front Plus, to participate further on the Lynette Francis programme, Praat Saam. Dr. Mulder had from time to time phoned in and participated in the radio phone-in programme.
Dr. Mulder described this ban as blatant censorship, servitude of the public broadcaster to the ANC government and a contravention of the SABC’s editorial policy. Dr. Mulder will be raising the issue with the parliamentary portfolio committee on communication and will also submit a complaint against the SABC to the Independent Communication Association of South Africa (ICASA). According to Mulder, the SABC is contravening its license conditions as well as its editorial policy.
In a letter of the SABC, Dr. Mulder is informed that there is a request ‘from above’ that in light of the possible election, party political officials must no longer be accommodated in phone-in programmes.
Dr. Mulder said that without a comprehensive list of all political officials being available to every phone-in program in South Africa, such an instruction cannot be enforced.
“In practice only certain political parties and individuals such as myself are discriminated against. We all pay license fees to make it possible for the public broadcaster to accommodate all views – not only those views that suit the SABC.
“To date no election date has been announced. On what grounds can the SABC then take such a decision to arbitrarily ban certain individuals to participate in phone-in programmes. Such a ban could remain in place for a year if the election is only held in 2017, which is currently a possibility,” Dr. Mulder said.
According to Dr. Mulder, the editorial policy of the SABC determines that the broadcaster must at all times strive to maintain equity, impartiality and balance and that a wide variety of views must be accommodated. By banning certain individuals from participating in programmes, this aspect of the SABC’s editorial policy is being contravened.
The same goes for the ICASA license agreement which stipulates that broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to portray conflicting views in a just manner during broadcasts, especially when controversial issues of public interest are at stake.
ICASA must determine to which extent these license requirements have been breached by this instruction ‘from above’ in the SABC to ban certain individuals from participating in phone-in programmes.