NGOs concerned about CCC’s rejection of their complaint about SABC’s banning of “flag-burning” advert

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NGOs concerned about CCC’s rejection of their complaint about SABC’s banning of “flag-burning” advert

Three NGOs have expressed grave concern over a decision on Friday by the broadcasting regulator, Icasa’s Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC), to reject on technical grounds their bid to hold the SABC to account for its failure to run the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) “flag-burning” election advert.

The CCC ruled on Friday that the three organisations – Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), the SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOS) and the Campaign for Free Expression (CFE) – did not have locus standi, the right to take up the case. Only political parties or an independent candidate can lay such a complaint, they said.

The ruling followed an earlier one brought by the DA in which the CCC found that the SABC had broken election regulations by refusing to run the advert and fined the public broadcaster R500 000.

The three NGOs welcomed this earlier CCC ruling as it established that the SABC had erred in refusing to broadcast the advert on the grounds that it was “against the national interest”. But the NGOs case, was different in that it sought to establish that the SABC did not have the power or authority to consider the content of any political party’s election advert and was obliged to run it unless it did not meet technical specifications.

The NGOs are dismayed at the CCC’s handling of this, as it cannot be right that a citizen cannot seek to defend their rights to a free flow of information or to challenge an SABC decision that amounted to party-partisan censorship.  Either the ruling is unjust or the regulation behind it is wrong, they said, and it sets an unfortunate precedent that would block a citizen’s right to hold the SABC to account for a patently unfair decision.

The three said they were taking legal advice with a view to challenging the decision and/or the election regulations.

Contact:

William Bird (MMA Director)

082 887 1370

Uyanda Siyotula (SOS National Coordinator)

060 691 2462

Anton Harber (CFE Executive Director)

083 303 9497