Over 12 million viewers in South Africa may no longer see the day’s news being aired on SABC, if a request to Icasa is granted to the public broadcaster.
According to the DA, which revealed this morning that the SABC headed to an Icasa public hearing last week, during which it requested that its channels be given the freedom to decide when prime time news is broadcast.
This effectively means that the SABC will no longer be obligated by the Electronic Communications Act to air news during the time period (which is prime time) that traditionally draws the most viewers.
According to TV viewership stats, isiZulu iziNdaba, Afrikaans Nuus and English News are among the top ten most viewed shows on SABC.
“Icasa has always held the position that prime time is the right time for broadcasters to broadcast local content when the majority of South Africans are expected to be watching TV. It must stick to this position, and not allow the SABC to dumb down the South African populace by only airing news broadcasters when fewer people are watching TV,” DA spokesperson, Phumzile van Damme said in a statement.
The DA has said it will voice its objection to the proposal when Icasa appears before the Portfolio Committee on Communications tomorrow. It will also request that Icasa spell out its position on the canning of prime time news.
“Icasa must place a further obligation on the SABC in particular, to ensure that the news it provides the South African public is impartial, balanced, and an accurate depiction of conditions in South Africa,” van Damme said.