Friday, January 19, 2018

SABC board has become involved and has been meeting over Bathabile Dlamini's scandalous pay-for-play Real Talk with Anele interview on SABC3.

The SABC board has now become involved and has met over the scandalous pay-for-play interview that the public broadcaster did with social development minister Bathabile Dlamini on the SABC3 talk show Real Talk with Anele and that took place because the minister paid for it.

Controversy is swirling around the SABC, Bathabile Dlamini, Real Talk with Anele and its production company Cheeky Media, as well as SABC3, after the South African public broadcaster confirmed that the minister's interviews were actually expensive paid-for "talkfomercials" from the social development department's budget.

That the interviews were paid content were never disclosed to viewers. Politicians should also not be paying for interviews - least of all on the SABC.

Both are a transgression of the SABC's own editorial policy as well as the broadcasting regulations set down by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) that acts as South Africa's broadcasting regulator.

The SABC's acting CEO Nomsa Philiso called Bathabile Dlamini's pay-for-play interview "not normal" and an internal investigation has started as to how it happened that hundreds of thousands of rand were paid to the SABC in return for a TV talk show puff-piece to profile the minister and her family in glowing terms.

The shocking incident that has once again damaged the SABC's credibility as well as that of the Real Talk with Anele show, making it difficult for audiences to know what of what they're watching are actually paid-for commercials disguised as editorial content and what is "real" editorial.

News expert Anton Harber wrote for The Daily Maverick on Friday saying the Bathabile Dlamini paid interview has destroyed "the public broadcaster's journalistic credibility, undermined its integrity, and compromised its professionalism".

"She has certainly destroyed the credibility of the SABC's Real Talk show and its presenter Anele Mdoda. Even if Mdoda was not instructed to go soft on Dlamini, who was after all a client rather than an interviewee, her credibility is blown".

The SABC is now reporting that the SABC board is aware of the issue and has been meeting to discuss it.

The SABC has not yet issued any official press statement about the growing scandal and neither has Real Talk with Anele.  

SABC3 referred all media enquiries about the Real Talk debacle to Kaizer Kganyago. 

Refilwe Moiloa at the production company Cheeky Media where Yusuf Stevens and Janez Vermeiren are the executive producers on Real Talk with Anele, when asked who can talk about the issue, on Thursday said it won't answer questions and also referred media enquiries to the SABC's Kaizer Kganyago.

Yusuf Stevens earlier told News24 that it is not uncommon for people to pay for exposure on Real Talk with Anele.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the SABC plans to issue an official response on Friday.

Real Talk with Anele, Cheeky Media, the SABC and SABC3 appear to be in breach of the SABC's own editorial policy that 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 also appear to have contravened 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.