Thursday, May 5, 2016

Right2Know Campaign: 'Woefully incompetent' Hlaudi Motsoeneng placing SABC at risk of running aground; 'those in charge at SABC no friends of press freedom'.

The Right2Know Campaign says the SABC's "woefully incompetent" Hlaudi Motsoeneng is placing the South African public broadcaster at risk of running aground, criticising the SABC for its low-quality programming and warning that the proposed new Broadcasting Amendment Bill threatens to destroy what is left of the independence of the SABC.

In a statement on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, the South African civil society group that supports freedom of expression and citizens and the media's access to information cautions that "the recently introduced Broadcasting Amendment Bill threatens to undermine the independence of the SABC, giving the minister of communications greater power over the SABC board".

The Right2Know Campaign slams the SABC's controversial and famously matricless chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng, saying his "every ham-fisted move" is putting the once proud SABC at risk.

"Those in charge at the SABC have revealed themselves to be no friends of press freedom, with the broadcaster' conceited yet woefully incompetent and scandal prone COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, demanding 70% of stories aired to be positive."

"With his every ham-fisted move, our once proud SABC that was a flagship of transformation is more at risk of running aground and reverting to a state mouthpiece."

"Political interference, maladministration and self-censorship have had a crippling effect and have meant that the SABC is increasingly unable to deliver high quality programming and news that reflects a plurality of views, is fair, accurate and independent of government and commercial interests."

The Right2Know Campaign says South Africa's media "needs more diversity" and that "the country's massive inequalities are replicated in media consumption."

"While the middle class have a rich media experience and access to a wide range of local and international media on a variety of ever-improving platforms, those in poor rural parts of the country may have to make do with just a local language SABC radio station at best."

"The migration to digital TV has the potential to transform South Africa's media because many more TV channels available could add to diversity of content and ownership."

"However Icasa (the regulator) wants to give two-thirds (66%) of the channels to the private sector. The SABC has been given a quarter of the channels (25%)."

"The SABC does not have the resources to produce all these extra public interest channels and is likely to run them as profitable partnerships with the private sector. ICASA's proposed privatisation of the airwaves will see only 5% of stations being community non-profit."

"Commercial stations will compete for existing advertising funds. There will be less advertising to go around so we can expect to see many re-runs, old shows and low budget American productions," says the Right2Know Campaign.