Thursday, May 8, 2014

As SABC News allow political party representatives - especially the ANC - to ramble on alone; what happened now to Hlaudi's edict?

SABC News (DStv 404), the SABC's 24-hour TV news channel turned into a shameless talk head parade of political party representatives - extremely biased towards and in favour of the ANC political party both in terms of exposure and time given - on Tuesday 6 May and Wednesday, 7 May, on election day in South Africa.

It raised the question: What happened to Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC's famously matricless acting chief operating officer (COO), and his cenorship edict that political party representatives can't be interviewed on SABC Television and SABC Radio or take part in discussion programming without other political parties' viewpoint being present?

AS far back as 2012 Hlaudi Motsoeneng directly started interfering with editorial news decisions at SABC Radio and SABC Television News and ordered the abrupt canning of interviews and guests for shows on radio and television in 2012 and 2013, claiming that no interviews can take place with political representatives if its not - according to him - "balanced" enough.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng used it to blatantly censor - in allof the cases - and shut down interviews critical of the ruling government and critical of the ruling political party in South Africa which is the ANC.

In the run-up to South Africa's general election on 7 May and during the day, SABC News flooded the channel with people clearly affliliated with the ANC political party, rambling on in extremely long interviews.

No other political parties (not even combined) got the same amount of exposure or airtime, while SABC News journalists and reporters made a litany of embarrassing mistakes, made unsubstantiated, biased statements and comments, and with very little, if any exposure or airtime to the majority of the other 29 political parties contesting the election.

The SABC shockingly, blatantly, touted an uncritical ANC narrative, putting on air ANC representative after ANC representative on SABC News, interviewing IEC officials doing predictions favouring the ANC, and giving viewers shockingly muddled pseudo electorate and election science as reporters and anchors were treading water waiting for actual news.

Economics anchor Francis Herd who helped out with general and political coverage as anchor and reporter was the best on SABC News on Wednesday 7 May - level-headed, clear, honest, fair and informed.

SABC3 and SABC News prime time news anchor Peter Ndoro was the worst (Eben Jansen a close second), perhaps from having done the SABC2 breakfast show Morning Live for too long - falling back into a clearly comfortable pseudo infotainment mold - one where facts, relevance and accurate statements matter less than simply to keep talking and filling dead air with words and a constant voice tone of airline cabin attendant mock joviality.

The large contingent of uncensored, unmediated ANC talking head, rambling on in long interviews on SABC News could be due to editorial laziness and the mere availability and over-representation of one specific political party at Hall J at the National Elections Centre at the Pretoria Show grounds.

Who works harder to go shoot different ducks in other marshes when the dam right in front of you is filled with them? It did however highlight the shocking editorial double-standard of the SABC and SABC News.

Although the SABC's "Hlaudi policy" is dead wrong that one or two people can't be interviewed if there isn't representation from other viewpoints, it is interesting to note how blatantly the SABC and SABC flouted its own rule, again to the benefit of one political party, when it suddenly suited the SABC to do so.

Neither eNCA (DStv 403), nor ANN7 (DStv 405) dropped to the brazen level of blatant political pandering SABC News did the past two days in terms of who got exposure and airtime, and who didn't.

In the run up to South Africa's 2014 Elections and on Wednesday which was Election Day, the SABC failed viewers and failed South Africa as the independent, unbiased South African public broadcaster it is supposed to be.