The DA wants Icasa to investigate allegations that the SABC has banned open line calls across all of its talk radio stations and shows until after local elections.

The City Press yesterday ran a story stating that a notice was issued by SABC radio general manager Leuba Ramakgolo to stop taking open calls.

According Metro Program Manger, Tony Soglo, this measure will be put in place “to protect the station against anybody who could potentially use the platform for their own benefit and also use it for electioneering”.

“The SABC’s decision is in violation of its current Editorial Policy; its obligations as listed in the Broadcasting Act; and its license conditions in terms of the ICASA Code of Conduct for Broadcasting Service Licensees,” DA national spokesperson, Phumzile Van Damme wrote on the party’s blog.

Open lines are a common feature and part of editorial policy across most talk stations and shows, including those belonging to the SABC.

The public broadcaster is also bound by rules in the Broadcasting Act which state that the SABC must offer a varied range of views from a broad South African audience, particularly on matters of public concern.

“Banning call-ins limits the amount of varied opinions broadcast on SABC radio stations and news programmes, and will result in the opinions of radio presenters, government and politicians being the only ones given airtime,” Van Damme said.

“All South Africans have a stake at the SABC, and should be given reasonable opportunity to voice their opinions on matters of their interest,” she added.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago denied that open line calls were outright banned.

“We are then saying that, for this period, avoid doing open line if you are not a current affairs show. You are creating a situation where anybody can say anything and that’s when issues of politics are then sneaked in during open line,” he told City Press. “There is nothing new about what we are doing. We have done that before. So now we are being pro-active about it to warn them against open lines during this period.”

“The DA intends on fighting this matter, and all other instances of the full state capture of the SABC,” Van Damme said.

“We trust that ICASA will investigate this matter in fulfilling its constitutional obligation to regulate broadcasting in the public interest and to ensure fairness and a diversity of views broadly representing South African society,” she concluded.

[Source – DA, image – CC curtis.kennington]