South African Parliament Press On With the SABC Bill Without Public Hearings

Several media organizations that are worried about what will happen to public broadcasting in South Africa in the future have voiced their shock that the South African parliament decided to press on with the SABC Bill without holding any of the public hearings that were supposed to take place next month.

South African Parliament Press On With the SABC Bill

South African Parliament Press on With the SABC Bill

Michael Markovitz, head of the Gibs Media Leadership Think Tank at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, blogged on X on Monday stating that “parliament is going to finalize a flawed and constitutionally suspect SABC Bill without public hearings,” citing a changed committee schedule.

“The bill addresses none of SABC’s core issues and will create more problems in this unseemly haste to pass it before elections.”

His view was supported by a communication notice from the portfolio committee dated January 25th, which scheduled a “discussion and update on the written submissions received on the SABC Bill.” However, the bill’s discussion, scheduled for March 8, does not address the comments provided by different interested groups.

SOS and MMA Reportedly Demanded That the Measure be Withdrawn

In a letter to the portfolio committee in November, the Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOS), and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) demanded that the measure be withdrawn because they felt it “offers no clarity, new mechanism or purpose.”

“Rather, it represents a rehash of old ideas with regressive notions and a reversal of significant gains in the independence and credibility of the SABC.”

In response, the portfolio committee requested written comments on the SABC Bill. Together, SOS, MMA, and the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) submitted a statement on January 16 expressing their serious concerns about the law. The organizations declared that the bill should be withdrawn after pointing out “a series of catastrophic and unconstitutional flaws.”

SOS and MMA Restated their Primary Concerns

They said, “It is imperative for a bill involving the public broadcaster that serves millions of South Africans to grant interested parties adequate time to formulate considered and well-informed representations; and provide more effective and accurate recommendations.”

SOS and MMA restated their primary concerns, which are that the law is being hurried through and that the constitutionality of the consultation process will be seriously jeopardized if all interested parties are not given enough time to evaluate the bill.



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