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Thursday, April 2, 2015

SABC slammed for scrapping of all TV news bulletins in South Africa's other languages on SABC News channel.


The SABC is slammed for its scrapping of all TV news bulletins in South Africa's other official languages besides English on the public broadcaster's SABC News (DStv 404) channel, with PEN South Africa saying that "at a time where the country is divided by a heated debate about the British colonial legacy of Cecil John Rhodes, the SABC is surely obliged to consult with the public it intends to inform and empower".

The SABC dropped all of its daily TV news bulletins in South Africa's vernacular languages on the SABC News channel since yesterday, without responding to media enquiries as to what prompted the decision and why the public broadcaster is scaling back in its TV news offering in South Africa's other official languages on the 24-hour TV news channel it launched in August 2013.

Gone since yesterday are all bulletins on the SABC News channel which were done in Zulu, Afrikaans, Siswati, Tsonga, Xhosa, isiNdelebe, Sotho and Venda throughout a day.

"PEN South Africa strongly object to the cancellation of additional TV news bulletins in other indigenous South African languages on SABC News (DStv channel 404)," said the organisation in a statement.

"This decision shows a clear lack of commitment from our public broadcaster to the multilingualism and linguistic rights enshrined in the South African Constitution and Bill of Rights."

"This lack of commitment is sadly ironic, considering that the SABC states on its website and in marketing material 'a unique selling point is SABC News Channel's multilingual programming' and that SABC News is delivered 'to audiences in all 11 South African official languages," says PEN SOuth Africa.

When the SABC launched the SABC News channel in 2013, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, chief operating officer (COO) of the SABC said that the channel "is an opportunity for the public broadcaster to enhance its public service mandate and extend its focus on provincial stories and the different official languages".

"PEN South Africa believe it is the duty of the SABC as a public broadcaster committed to peaceful dialogue and communication in a multicultural, multilingual society, to reconsider its decision to cancel all TV news bulletins in languages other than English on SABC News," says the organisation.

"If the SABC wants to opt for English only on a news channel created to serve all South Africans at a time where the country is divided by a heated debate about the British colonial legacy of Cecil John Rhodes, it is surely obliged to consult with the public it intends to inform and empower."