SABC fined R500,000 for refusing to flight DA's flag ad, ordered to flight it

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
The SABC has been ordered to flight the DA advert showing the burning of the South African flag.
The SABC has been ordered to flight the DA advert showing the burning of the South African flag.
Image: Youtube/DA

The Independent Communications Authority has found that the SABC’s refusal to air the DA’s controversial burning flag political advertisement had no legal basis under the Electronic Communications Act. 

Icasa’s complaints and compliance committee (CCC) recommended the SABC be fined R500,000 for breaching the regulations.

It further recommended that Icasa direct the SABC to cease its conduct of refusing to broadcast the advert and fulfil its obligations under the act and air it.

The DA had submitted the advert to the SABC for flighting. The advert digitally depicts the South African national flag burning then unfurling as fully restored with background narration campaigning for the DA.

On April 26, the SABC sent correspondence to the DA requesting the party to alter the advert by removing the burning flag. 

When it became clear that the DA was not amenable to the request, the SABC refused to broadcast it and informed the DA on May 9. 

This led to the DA bringing an urgent complaint against the SABC on May 10. The DA filed the complaint under the national provincial party elections, broadcasts and political advertisement regulations.

The question before the CCC was: can the SABC refuse to air a political advertisement because the advertisement, in its view, undermined national building, attracted condemnation from government and its officials and offended certain members of the public?   

In its findings, the CCC said contrary to the SABC’s submissions, no provision in the ECA or regulations empowered the SABC to exercise its discretion to refuse to air a political advertisement which was lawful.   

It said the ECA and the regulations clearly circumscribed the grounds on which the SABC might refuse to air a political advertisement. 

“Accordingly, the CCC finds that the SABC contravened section 58(1) and 58(3) of the ECA, read with the regulations, in that it refused to broadcast the DA’s political advertisement when there was no legal basis to do so,” said the chair of the CCC, judge Thokozile Masipa, and four members in their judgment.


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