We’ve seen many protests in South Africa’s storied history both before and after democracy, but the SABC has felt that now is the time to stop broadcasting them.
The state-owned broadcaster will no longer show footage (in any of its bulletins across its channels) of protests, the or destruction as the result of them. The SABC explains it as “footage of people burning public institutions, like schools.”
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The SABC will no longer show footage of destruction of public property during protests
— Gugulethu Mhlungu (@GugsM) May 26, 2016
“The SABC acknowledges fact that citizens have constitutional rights to protest and voice concerns on various issues that they are not happy with, but the SABC doesn’t believe destruction of property is best way to voice grievances – and promoting them might encourage other communities to do same,” it explains in a release.
The broadcaster reiterates that it will “continue to cover news without fear or favour, but it will not cover people destroying public property.”
As one can imagine, this announcement brought a few mixed responses on social media.
Some on Twitter are looking at the sardonic side of the announcement, like the Hlaudi Motsoeneng (the SABC’s COO) parody account:
Hooligan EFF members, destroy & burn down school in Hammanskraal. There is no footage. You will just have to believe us.
— Hlaudi Motsoenėng (@SABC_COO) May 27, 2016
Others are considering the announcement and the implications rationally:
Stop complaining. Hlaudi’s #SABC news is the most watched news bulletin in SA. If you wanna protest, do it by stopping to watch or shut up!
— Desiree (@Dezicles) May 27, 2016
Pornographic scenes were banned because of its impacts to the kids. #SABC did very well in stopping that nonsense, so why not with crime?
— IG: KwaziCele (@PitsomanSA) May 27, 2016
And lastly, Twitter users are also exploring what this means for the future of media in South Africa:
— The People vs ANC (@KesiMolefe) May 27, 2016
— tebz (@tololodj) May 27, 2016
At this rate the #SABC will end up not covering rape crimes,because according to the COO it will fuel more rape crimes
— Major General (@EliasChinemore) May 27, 2016
Although the SABC will censor television broadcasts, it’s unclear whether that extends to its social media and internet portals as well.
At the time of writing, #SABC (see live Twitter timeline below) was the top trending topic on Twitter in South Africa, with a hat tip to #Hlaudi also featuring on the list.
Have a look at the SABC’s full statement issued below:
The SABC has noted with concern the recent turmoil arising from violent service delivery protests in various parts of the country.
As a public service broadcaster, the SABC condemns the burning of public institutions and has made a decision not to show footage of people burning public institutions, like schools, in any of its news bulletins with immediate effect.
The SABC acknowledges fact that citizens have constitutional rights to protest and voice concerns on various issues that they are not happy with, but the SABC doesn’t believe destruction of property is best way to voice grievances – and promoting them might encourage other communities to do same.
The SABC would like to stress that it’ll continue to cover news without fear or favour, but it will not cover people destroying public property.
The SABC appeals to other broadcasters and media to stand in solidarity and not cover violent protests that are destroying public institutions.
Feature image: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr