Call on the new SABC board members to agree to these principles

We would like to thank the 34 candidates who availed themselves for an intense interview process for the SABC board, last week. These will be the people that ensure that the SABC’s management is acting in the best interests of the public. We are certain that the National Assembly will appoint board members that are qualified and suitable for the mammoth task at hand.

However, a new board does not mean that the troubles at the SABC are over. Our public broadcaster still has a long way to go before it can efficiently fulfil the education, entertainment and information needs of the South African audience. 

The appointment of a new board means that we, the public, have an opportunity to ensure that the incoming SABC board has a clear mandate from us, in how best we should be served and how to steer it out of the governance and financial chaos it finds itself in.  

To members of the incoming SABC board,

We, the undersigned, call on you to ensure that public programming is credible, reliable, balanced and offers audiences variety.  To achieve this, and in line with international best practice, we call on you to commit to using your term in governance to ensure that the SABC adopts and adheres to the following principles:

  1. Every person in South Africa is able to receive both radio and television programming in all official languages, thereby strengthening the goals of our Constitution.
  2. The SABC is independent of commercial, state and/or partisan interests. 
  3. Content must reflect the full range of South African opinions, particularly the views of the traditionally marginalized. This means that the public broadcaster must set the bar in terms of local content production and that the majority of its budget must be allocated to promoting, commissioning and producing local content.
  4. The SABC must draft a new Charter that commits the broadcaster to the broadcasting of cutting edge, people-orientated programming, which must be developed through a consultative process between Parliament and the SABC. It should be reviewed and updated regularly.
  5. The SABC must review, update and implement its editorial policies regularly to ensure that it plays its watchdog role while catering to all audiences in the upcoming digital, multichannel environment.
  6. The SABC offers a forum for democratic debate, while also including content and issues originating from outside of the country to contribute to people’s knowledge of, and exposure to the world and issues outside of South Africa’s borders.
  7. Journalists in the SABC must be protected from political and commercial interests so that they can play their key information gathering and dissemination roles in the interests of the broadcaster’s audience.
  8. Additional public participation mechanisms must be investigated and implemented to ensure accountability to its audience.  
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