The Democratic Alliance on Monday said it would lay a complaint with the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) against the SABC for untenable delays in airing its election advertisements for the August municipal polls.
Democratic Alliance MP and communications spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said a week of talks between the official opposition and the public broadcaster had proven fruitless, and the party was surprised to hear SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyakgo claim in an interview that the party needed to change its advertisements.
“This is news to us. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our adverts. This smacks of deliberate censorship,” Van Damme said.
“We see this for what it is – a smokescreen to continue to delay them being aired for even longer.”
She also rejected an earlier statement by the SABC that it could not air the ads as it had not yet organised slots for campaign advertisements.
“These are blatant lies. These are paid advertisements, and there is no need for allocation of slots. This is pure nonsense.”
The DA would during the course of the day file a complaint with the regulator.
She said the Broadcasting Act specifically made provision for all parties contesting elections to get free one-minute slots on SABC stations, which are known as Party Election Broadcasts or PEBs. For the separate category, known as Political Advertisements (PAs), which are broadcast on any and all stations, parties paid commercial rates.
According to Van Damme, the SABC was conflating the two categories and its refusal to air the advertisements unless they were amended was therefore unlawful.
“Our adverts are lawful and provided for in the ICASA Act the moment a proclamation is made, as Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Des van Rooyen, did on Monday, 23 May 2016,” she said.
“The reality is that this is nothing but a poorly crafted delay tactic by the SABC in order to censor the DA’s political advertisement, as well as to afford the African National Congress an unfair advantage in the race to the upcoming elections.”
The advertisement in question makes the claim that the poor receive better service delivery in areas governed by the DA.
– African News Agency (ANA)