Thursday, January 18, 2018

PAY FOR PLAY. Horrific lapse of SABC's editorial policy as broadcaster admits payment for Real Talk with Anele Mdoda on SABC3 to do a 2 hour interview with minister Bathabile Mdoda.

A shocking pay for play scandal has engulfed talk show host Anele Mdoda, her talk show Real Talk with Anele produced by Cheeky Media, the SABC and SABC3; as well as the minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini, following revelations that the government department she is supposed to run, paid thousands of rand for Bathabile Dlamini to be interviewed for two hour long episodes on the SABC.

The report from Daily Maverick exposed a horrific lapse of SABC editorial control and safeguards, standards and ethics, as well as at the production company and talk show host whose face and name is the brand of the show.

ALSO READ: After pay-for-play scandal, here what Anele Mdoda needs to do right now to save her show.

Neither Real Talk with Anele, nor the SABC or SABC3 ever told viewers that the 2 hour softball interview broadcast in December - and repeated - is paid-for content and essentially a talkfomercial instead of an honest and legitimate interview.

The shocking revelations are destroying the credibility and inflicting seriously reputational damage on the image, credibility and brands of Anele Mdoda, the SABC, its SABC3 channel, as well as the Cheeky Media production company.

Viewers no longer know what exactly, and to what degree they can trust Real Talk with Anele or anything - or anyone - that appears on that show.

Lumka Oliphant, publicist for Bathabile Dlamini who also appeared on Real Talk with Anele during the paid-for interviews, told the Daily Maverick that the department is allowed to pay for interviews with the press with public funds supposed to help the old, frail and poor, for Bathabile Dlamini to get media exposure.

Lumka Oliphant initially denied the claim of a R500 000 payment for Bathabile Dlamini to be interviewed on Real Talk with Anele and said "The  reports, which are completely untrue, are a display of gutter journalism to destroy anyone who dares to give a different narrative on minister Bathabile Dlamini."

TVwithThinus made a media enquiry on Wednesday to the SABC regarding the payment of R500 000 by a politician to be interviewed for 2 hours on the South African public broadcaster without the fact being disclosed and told to viewers.

The SABC was also asked for comment about the show in light of what the SABC's editorial policy says and the stipulations of the broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

When the SABC responds with answers to the media enquiry, this report will update with it.

Real Talk with Anele and Cheeky Media, and the SABC, are in breach of the SABC's own editorial policy that clearly states that "where there is programme sponsorship, the sponsor's association with the programme has to be stated clearly, both before and after the programme".

They are also in breach of the SABC's editorial policy in terms of "information programming" that states that the SABC should "disclose all the essential facts and not suppress relevant, available facts".

Likewise infomercials and paid-for content in programmes on the SABC "must be labelled in such a way as to make clear that they are not programme material" the SABC's editorial policy states.

Meanwhile the SABC acting CEO Nomsa Philiso admitted that payment took place for a politician to be interviewed on the SABC and told News24 that it was "not normal" for the SABC to sell interviews, saying "there was payment, from what my team tells me".

Yusuf Stevens and Janez Vermeiren are both listed and carry executive producer credits on Real Talk with Anele.

Yusuf Stevens, Real Talk with Anele executive producer, told News24 that it is not uncommon for people to pay for exposure on Real Talk with Anele and that reportedly "mostly brands pay to be on the show".

Yusuf Stevens said that it is handled by the SABC’s sales representatives who also determine the rate. "We still control the interview, do the research and make it interesting to the viewers. Nobody interferes with our scriptwriting or research process."

Yusuf Stevens has so far not said why Cheeky Media and SABC3 didn't disclose to viewers and told them that Anele Mdoda did paid-for interviews and that viewers are watching a paid-for 2 hours.

Also not explained yet is what other episodes and segments are actually promotional, paid-for content, and how payment impacts how brands, people and services are being featured on Real Talk with Anele or not.

Refilwe Moiloa at Cheeky Media in response to a media enquiry asking who is speaking on behalf of the show and who can answer questions pertaining to what happened and how it happened, said Cheeky Media won't be talking and referred all media enquiries to SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.

Anele Mdoda whose name is carried on Real Talk with Anele and who is the face and brand of the show claimed that she knew nothing of the R500 000 payment and that "it is commissioned by the SABC. I am the presenter. I have nothing to do with them".

"For them to insinuate I took money [to do the interview] is ludicrous. I have no dealings with what happens with the Department of Social Development or the SABC. I get a directive of who they would like on the show and that is who we research."

Anele Mdoda also lashed out at the Daily Maverick, using her social media account on Twitter to slam the report, saying "Understanding how TV works would be the first step here. Keep my name out your damn rubbish".

The Democratic Alliance (DA) political party in a statement said Bathabile Dlamini must pay back the R500 000 that "could have paid more than 300 social grants. It is shocking that the department had the audacity to supposedly use public money for an interview".

"It is mandated to serve the poor, needy and vulnerable within our society, it is not mandated to use taxpayers' money to make floundering ministers look good." The DA said it would submit a range of parliamentary questions to "get to the bottom of this likely abuse of taxpayers' money".