Media Tuesday Bulletin: SABC’s ‘Ban-Ban Club’; And, Your top stories & newsmaker of the year

Posted: 11 December 2012 | News - Newsletter | Categories: Democracy and Governance, Media Freedom and Performance

And here is what we have on offer in this last Media Tuesday Bulletin of 2012:

·         The SABC’s ‘Ban-Ban Club’

·         Your top stories and newsmaker of the year 2012


Continuous banning and canning at Auckland Park wanes the broadcaster’s credibility?

Hardly a month after the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) withdrew its complaint against the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) following a settlement and joint statement by both parties, the SABC is at it again! The settlement related to a complaint lodged by the FXI in 2007 during Thabo Mbeki’s Presidential tenure, after allegations of blacklisting of certain political commentators because of their views on Mbeki’s presidency.

In fact, the settlement was reached just a few days after media reports of allegations about the SABC’s acting Head of News, Jimi Matthwes, ordering his newsroom to refrain from using phrases such as “compound” and “homestead” to refer to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home.

Matthews also (allegedly) told SABC reporters to stop using phrases like “Nkandlagate” and “Zumaville. Instead President Zuma's Nkandla home should be referred to as the President's, or Mr Zuma's, "Nkandla residence", according to Matthews’ instructions.

Fast-forward to 27 November 2012, just two weeks after the settlement, the banning and canning continued. The casualty:  a fish and chips advertisement that the SABC banned just before it made it on air, earning the SABC a spot in ’The Ban-Ban Club’. The SABC said the ad “was not aired because it implied presidential endorsement of the product”.

Then the public broadcaster found itself at the centre of a new blacklisting scandal after a planned radio show, which was to feature top political journalists debate the media’s coverage of the African National Congress (ANC)’s elective conference in Mangaung, was pulled just before going live on air.

The SABC claimed responsibility and defended the decision to pull the show, saying that “the show lacked balance and fairness without an ANC representative and contravened the SABC’s editorial policy”. The show has since been resurrected and aired on Monday (10 December 2012), this time including ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe to give the ruling party's view on the show, and the SABC’s political editor Abbey Makoe.

Of course there are other equally controversial goings-on at the SABC, such as senior journalist Sophie Mokoena being taken off the political team in the run up to Mangaung. News is also that, three days ago the SABC management tried to pull Siki Mgabadeli’s show on SAfm. And we have now just read about an anonymous letter by a group of SABC journalists, producers and presenters, raising a number of concerns including journalists being taken to task for not airing enough Zuma footage and not defending Zuma against his critics.

All these and other issues could have implications on the broadcasters’ credibility. With all the above information in mind, do you still believe what the SABC says? Do you watch and believe SABC news? Is SABC news still a credible source of information? During the apartheid era, few people believed SABC news as it was biased or framed in a particular way; are we at that point again? Do you think the public broadcaster has lost its credibility?

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What were your top stories and newsmaker of the year 2012?

It is that time of the year again when we take a look back at the year that has been, and identify  some of the top stories for the year. Whether you are an environmentalist and want to pick your top 5 environmental stories; or you are more interested in politics and want to share your top 5 politics stories for the year, we would love to hear from you!

News24 has compiled their list of the Top 10 animal stories and travel stories of 2012, while TimesLIVE has picked their Top 10 entertainment stories of 2012. There is also The Star newspaper’s (5 December 2012; p. 8-9) “The Top 100 of 2012”, classified according to ten categories from Newsmakers and Heroes to Politics and Business. And of course the Mail and Guardian’s 2012 wrap.

But we would like to know what your pick of top 5 stories of 2012 are. Send us your pick on Facebook and Twitter.

Still reflecting on the year that has been, the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) has been voted the 2012 Newsmaker of the Year by the Johannesburg Press Club. The organisation was nominated for its relentless pursuit of the public’s full understanding of the Protection of State Information Bill (aka Info Bill or Secrecy Bill), and its impact on the media and citizens.

Do you think the R2K deserves the title? If not, why? Is there anyone else you think should have received the title? Facebook and Tweet us...