The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition was established on 10 June 2008 as the “Save our SABC Campaign”. It was conceptualised as a short term, single-issue campaign with Open Society Foundation support to develop civil society strategies to deal with the current crisis at the SABC.
Concerned citizens and representatives of various civil society and media organisations resolved to use the crises at the SABC as an opportunity to recommit to established and agreed principles of public broadcasting (now referred to as “public service media”), which define public broadcasting as independent from interference from the government, political parties, as well as commercial influence.
Today the SOS Coalition is a member-based civil society formation representing a broad constituency. The Coalition works diligently to ensure it represents civil society, organisations (CSOs), including the independent film and TV production sector and social justice organisations, and includes the expertise of academics, lawyers, freedom of expression activists and others committed to the strengthening and advancement of public service media in the public interest. It is proudly recognised as a public interest organisation, by the Constitutional Court in the matter of e.tv v Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies and Others (CCT 89/22 and 92/22) at paragraph , and the go-to expert on all public service media issues.
The reasons for launching the “Save our SABC Campaign” continue to varying degrees, and depend on how independent any SABC Board is. Political and commercial interference are still very prevalent, and the SABC has a deeply unsound funding model. We believe that, if not for our continuing efforts (which include advocacy, precedent-setting litigation, research, and engagement in policy, legislative and regulatory processes) the SABC would have long operated as a state broadcaster.
This critical work must continue so that South Africans benefit from financially viable and independent public service media that provide access to reliable, quality news and information; give access to diverse local content that tells the unique stories of South Africans; fosters cultural diversity; and promote social cohesion in line with the prospects of nation building. This will advance democratic values and principles across radio, TV, online and digital platforms and play a crucial role in strengthening our democracy.
GOAL AND OUTCOMES
The Goal of the SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition is to ensure free universal access to quality local public service content on digital and broadcast platforms to strengthen democracy.
We have two Outcomes:
- Pubic interest media operate independently while being accountable to the public for the delivery of local public interest content.
- Oversight structures create an enabling policy, legal and regulatory environment and ensure the production and distribution of public service content.
The Goal and Outcomes are articulated in our Theory of Change, along with our six primary activities.
The SOS Coalition’s Vision Document articulates our vision for best practice audio and audio-visual content and services (AAVCS), and, in particular, the SABC’s public broadcasting and online services media, with the specific aim of lobbying government, regulatory authorities, relevant industries and other stakeholders to promote and implement this vision. The contents of this document have been widely debated by civil society within the structures of the SOS Coalition through a number of roundtable discussions, workshops and public meetings.
The Vision Document has 13 best practice principles and is constantly updated in line with international best practice, an understanding of changes to terminology and exponential growth in the IT industry, including what is often referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR); and future proofing public service media.
Our core guiding values have been deeply debated in drawing up our Membership Code of Conduct, and comprise:
- Social justice. We aim to promote South Africa’s foundational values of human dignity, equality and freedom.
- Respect. Given the denial of respect to the majority of South Africans in the past, we commit to treating each other and whoever we engage with, with respect.
- Accountability and integrity. We require these to build trust amongst ourselves and with those we engage with. We will hold our organisation as well as ourselves accountable for what we say and do, as well as practise utmost integrity in the way we work with each other and in engagements linked to the organisation.
- Authenticity, honesty and truth. We undertake to present ourselves and matters to the world and each other in an honest, authentic and truthful manner.
- Compassion, kindness and care. We acknowledge that the civil society space can be particularly difficult. Understanding that context, we commit to engaging in compassionate, helpful and supportive ways.
- Passion and commitment. We know that social justice work relies extensively on passion and commitment, more so when work is voluntary. Sharing and supporting each other in doing the work is crucial.
- Efficiency and impact. We commit to undertake all agreed work with urgency and purpose for impact. We believe cooperative teamwork and collegiality are cornerstones to maximising both efficiency and impact for the change for which we strive.
- Open, transparent and regular communication. We undertake to consult and communicate regularly with each other at meetings or online forums, and with our stakeholders and role players in ways that promote respect and consideration for others.
- Collaboration, evaluation and constructive critique. We commit to cooperating and collaborating in ways that are respectful of both expectations and capacity. We commit to provide access to, and to share, information relevant to the pursuit of shared objectives. We commit to periodic and mutually agreed monitoring and evaluation of individual actions, as well as joint evaluation of the experience of operating within a coalition framework. And we commit to the right to constructively critique each other's actions and policies in a context of mutual respect.
The Board of the SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition is voted in annually at the AGM in November.
The Constitution stipulates that SOS requires a Board of 7-9 members:
- Chairperson (office bearer)
- Deputy Chairperson (office bearer)
- Treasurer (office bearer; to come from the Host Organisation/Fiscal Agent)
- National Coordinator (office bearer)
- 3 – 5 additional members
All Board members are drawn from the SOS membership. They may come from one or more mandated organisational member representatives and any number of individual members. Only organisational members are able to nominate individuals for the Board.
The only term limit for any member of the Board is three consecutive years for the Chairperson.
On 9 November 2023 the following Board was elected by the SOS membership:
Membership of the SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition is confirmed annually ahead of the AGM in November. However, members can join throughout the course of the year.
All members form the Working Group which meets every two months, and gives strategic input to the content and direction of the work of the organisation.
Organisations have between one and three representatives to the Coalition, depending on the capacity of the member organisation, and / or its level of involvement in the different structures (Board, Campaigns’ Subcommittee and Legal Advocacy Subcommittee). Organisational members have voting rights because they represent constituencies.
Individual members do not have voting rights; and join as respected members of the public interest/media fraternity, and bring their expertise to the work of the Coalition.
The Constitution of the SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition was adopted at the AGM held on 16 November 2018, and amended to update terminology (principally from “public broadcasting” to “public service media” at the AGM held on 18 November 2022.
The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition registered as a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) with the National Department of Social Development on 12 February 2020. Our registration number is 242-669 NPO.
Here is a link to our NPO Registration.
The SOS Coalition is in the process of registering with the South African Revenue Services (SARS) for Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) status. As soon as registration comes through we will update this section of the website and provide proof of registration.
This will enable donors to receive tax deductions on donations to the Coalition.
To support the work of the Coalition please access this link: