The beleaguered SABC on Thursday admitted that the public broadcaster failed to do proper public consultation on its revised editorial policies pushed through in late 2016, and that the SABC is embarking on a new, month and a half long nationwide consultation drive to get comments to update its policies.
After complaints, South Africa's broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) found that the SABC's process to hastily update and push through its editorial policy in 2016 failed to properly and adequately involve public participation.
The policy change was done and pushed through so that the SABC could effectively enact its TV news censorship, banning the broadcast of visuals depicting the destruction of property during public protests.
Despite saying there were public consultation with the public and civil society groups as required by South Africa's Broadcasting Act, there were none, with the SABC's disgraced and fired former chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and the former minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, who lied.
The SABC has been forced to return and work from its outdated 2004 editorial policy for the past 9 months since 2004 was the last time Icasa approved an SABC editorial policy.
At a press conference that was not well attended and only saw a few media pitching at its Auckland Park head office on Thursday afternoon, chairperson of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Khanyisile Kweyama "we are today launching the review project of the SABC editorial policies."
Khanyisile Kweyama said the SABC is "resusitating" the consultation process with the public "following Icasa's ruling that the SABC didn't comply with the Broadcasting Act in reviewing or amending the 2004 editorial policies".
"In 2013 the SABC started a process to review the editorial policies which resulted in the 2016 policies that were filed with Icasa," said Khanyisile Kweyama. "However the SABC failed to adhere to section 6.6 regarding public participation, so not adequate consultation."
Khanyisile Kweyama said Icasa ordered the policies invalid in terms of the Broadcasting Act. "So we reverted to the 2004 editorial policies. We are currently governed by the 2004 editorial policies".
Khanyisile Kweyama said two SABC teams will travel through South Africa, visiting two provinces at a time, to do public participation roadshows "in town halls and under the trees".
A draft policy will be created, that the SABC promises will this time be opened for public comments.
After that the SABC board will compile a final draft that will be send to Icasa for approval.
"Part of our mandate is to restore credibility and the governance at the SABC. It's through lack of governance that policies were changed without through a proper process."
Tseliso Ralitabo, acting SABC CEO, said "we just are going to be depending on the integrity that we're trying to build back for the organisation".
"The process that we have started is really that of building the integrity we think have been eroded over time, and we can only hope that whoever will be following up on us will adhere and keep to the same policies that we have put in place."
The SABC will now visit all 9 provinces between 31 July and 31 August and do public participation roadshows to get the public's opinion and input on 6 different policy aspects that urgently needs to be updated.
These include news and editorial, programming, local content for TV and radio, language, religion and universal service.
South Africans and organisations can access the various policies at sabc.co.za/policies and get a compilation of all the policies at sabc.co.za/editorialpolicy .
People can post their views and comments to SABC Private Bag X1, Aucklandpark, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2006 and email comments to email@example.com or phone the SABC switchboard on 011 714 9111 or 011 7149797, or fax 011 714 4508.