SOS is delighted to announce, in collaboration with, the launch of a petition calling for the immediate withdrawal of the SABC Bill. The petition aims to raise awareness and garner public support in urging the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee in Communications (PPCC) to withdraw the SABC Bill and instruct the Department of Communication Digital Technologies (DCDT) to await the finalisation of the 2nd Draft White Paper before sending the Bill to Parliament. 

The SABC Bill is currently in Parliament for consideration and is due to be presented by the DCDT in the PPCC on the 31st of October 2023. The Bill has great implications in the future of the SABC and public broadcasting as we know it.

As the SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition, we have always advocated for an independent, sustainable, and functioning SABC, principles that will be undermined should the proposed SABC Bill be passed. As an organisation that is committed to promoting core public broadcasting principles and strengthening the SABC to ensure that it fulfils its democratic role, we saw value in inviting citizens to exercise their democratic right and play a part in shaping legislation that affects a critical public institution such as the SABC i.e. the peoples’ public broadcaster. has a proven track record of leading digital campaigns and mobilizing citizens in social justice issues and legislative development and amendments that have a direct impact on the citizen. We are apprehensive of the SABC Bill for a host of reasons but the threat to our democracy that the Bill poses is our most worrying concern. Due to this, we are creating a platform for the public to make their voices heard. 

The petition foregrounds the problematic provisions of the SABC Bill such as the Ministerial interference in the appointment of the interim Board and that of the Commercial Board, including the extension of the Board term beyond the second term. We are also concerned that amid the collapse of the SABC due to financial constraints, the Bill fails to put forth a workable funding model but instead grants the Minister a three-year timeline to develop a funding framework. The SABC’s financial woes have started trickling down to affect the quality of content production and news and current affairs delivery. 

In the lead up to the 2024 elections, we are concerned about the hurried push to pass the flawed SABC Bill. Moreover, the Bill is introduced in parliament in a policy vacuum while the Draft White Paper has just received public input. The SABC is instrumental for our democracy and national cohesion. A collapse of the public broadcaster and its independence indicates a collapse of media freedom in South Africa. The public broadcaster is our first port of call for information, news, and entertainment. In the context of the 2024 elections and the role the SABC plays in relaying pertinent information on the government, politics, and political parties, it is important to note provisions being proposed in the SABC Bill that will expose the public broadcaster to cadre deployment, ministerial interference, and editorial interference be amended. 

We are calling for the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications and Digital Technologies (PPCC) to:

–        Withdraw the SABC Bill and refer it back to the DCDT for amendments. 

–        Oversee and enforce correct lawmaking process 

We also call on the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) to:

–        Acknowledge and engage with the public comments made to the 2nd AAVCS Draft White Paper.

–        Finalise the Draft White Paper on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services and Online Content Safety (AAVCS).

–        Re-draft sections in the Bill that threaten democracy, media freedom, independence, and sustainability of the SABC.

–        Hold a public comment process before the Bill is introduced in Parliament.

In order to ensure that our voices are being heard, this online petition reiterates our call for the immediate withdrawal of the SABC Bill. We invite all concerned South Africans who value the important role that the SABC plays in our society to stand with us and claim an independent SABC, along with an SABC Bill that is progressive. The SABC belongs to South Africans and together we can ensure that the Bill reflects and prioritises the public interest.

The petition can be signed on the awethu platform using this link: 

For more information contact: 

Uyanda Siyotula 

SOS Support Public Broadcating Coalition

National Coordinator 

060 691 2462