Here’s how the SABC spent millions covering ANC birthday bash

Issued by Phumzile Van Damme MP – DA Shadow Minister of Communications
05 Dec 2018 in News

Please find attached a soundbite in English by Phumzile Van Damme MP.

The SABC has spent R2.2 million broadcasting the ANC’s annual birthday party since 2014, second only to the State of the Nation Address in terms of event coverage expenditure.

This was revealed in a reply to a DA parliamentary question to the Minister of Communications requesting the amount the SABC has spent on broadcasting events of national importance.

The money spent on the ANC’s birthday party is more than the Budget Speech (R2 million), World Aids Day (R1.2 million) and Human Rights Day coverage (R1.3 million).

While we acknowledge the relevance of broadcasting the January 8 statement, the SABC classifying this as an event of national importance is improper.

The ANC’s birthday party is not an event of national importance in terms of the SABC’s Editorial Policy. Nor is the speech delivered by the State President, in his capacity as ANC President at the event. Thus, the SABC’s expenditure covering this event as one of national importance is in violation of its own editorial policy.

Events of national importance according to the SABC’s Editorial Policy are:

“…events may include the Opening of Parliament, the budget speech, State occasions such as visits by foreign dignitaries and State funerals; major commemorative occasions, and the proceedings of national commissions of inquiry. Other events that may warrant live coverage and involve scheduling and programming changes include major parliamentary debates, the opening of provincial legislatures, and significant conferences of the major political parties”.

The editorial policy clearly does not mention party-political birthday parties as events of national importance.

In a democracy, it is crucial that the public broadcaster provide coverage to political party events, however, the broadcaster should also provide equal exposure to significant events of all major political parties.

As such, in our submission on the review of the SABC’s editorial policy, the DA submitted that the list of what is considered an event of national importance should be tightened and be limited to:

  • The State of the Nation address
  • The debate on the State of the Nation address
  • The Budget Speech
  • State Funerals
  • State Commemorative Events
  • Proceedings of National Commissions of Inquiry
  • Significant Conferences of major political parties
  • Major announcements by the State President

We look forward to the publication of the SABC’s editorial policy taking into consideration the submissions listed above. We also look forward to an undertaking from the SABC that it will not again willingly violate its own editorial policy by giving live broadcast to the ANC’s birthday party in 2019 as an event of national importance.