In the wake of the management chaos at the SABC, an online petition has started circulating calling on some of the public broadcaster’s biggest advertising clients to boycott it until reforms have been implemented.
The latest scandal to dog the SABC was its refusal this morning to allow four of its eight fired staff members to enter SABC headquarters after the Labour Court ruled that they were to return to work, as their dismissals were not lawful. They were fired for questioning editorial decisions, particularly one that ordered that there was to be no more coverage of violent protests in which public property was being destroyed.
That policy has already been overruled by communications regulator Icasa, and a legal challenge against it brought by the Helen Suzman Foundation was also successful. Nevertheless, the SABC maintained its stance against the fired journalists and has indicated that it intends to appeal the Labour Court ruling.
Now an Amandla petition is calling for action that will hit the SABC where it hurts most: the pocket. However, even if there were to be an advertising boycott from the public sector, it’s unlikely to sway the controversial chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, as the broadcaster has already indicated that it wants a R1 billion loan due to a massive financing shortfall.
The Amandla petition says: “More and more organisations and political parties, including the ANC, agree with us that what is happening at the SABC is wrong. But the situation at the SABC is deteriorating rapidly, with journalists facing suspension and more and more evidence surfacing of censorship. This calls for a different approach.
“We know the SABC makes much of its revenue from advertising, so together with our allies from the SOS Coalition and Media Monitoring Africa, let’s call on some of the SABC’s largest advertisers; Clientele, Chicken Licken, FNB, Vodacom, Black Label, Checkers, Telkom and others to pause their advertising with our SABC until this censorship is brought to and end.”
Anyone interested can sign the petition here.