SABC bans ra­dio call­ers

‘You are cre­at­ing a sit­u­a­tion where any­body can say any­thing,’ says SABC’s Kganyago in de­fence of the gag on cur­rent affairs show

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI hlengiwe.nhlabathi@city­press.co.za

Lis­ten­ers are livid that the SABC gagged a cur­rent affairs show by ban­ning phone calls to the pro­gramme un­til af­ter the lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions. They set alight so­cial me­dia this week when Metro FM ra­dio per­son­al­ity Rams Mabote spent his en­tire show in­ter­view­ing ANClinked busi­ness­man Vivian Reddy – but not one phone call was al­lowed to air.

Lis­ten­ers ques­tioned whether Mabote was try­ing to stop them from crit­i­cis­ing the gov­ern­ing party and its lead­er­ship.

Mabote kept mum through­out and sim­ply retweeted the com­ments. Some lis­ten­ers opted to aban­don the show, while oth­ers ac­cused him of be­ing a lackey of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

City Press can con­firm that the SABC is­sued in­struc­tions to cen­sor lis­ten­ers’ com­ments un­til af­ter the elec­tions.

“A clam­p­down on phone lines, so the ‘Zup­tas’ have hi­jacked our show. You are clamp­ing down on open lines and cur­rent affairs.

“Same hap­pen­ing to SAfm,” read a tweet from an an­gry lis­tener.

An­other asked: “You sac­ri­ficed our open line for what good rea­son?”

One tweeter said: “I think some­body with good re­la­tions with ANC thinks he is do­ing the ANC a favour. This is tak­ing down a pub­lic ra­dio show from pub­lic.”

The de­ci­sion to not take calls was re­it­er­ated by cor­re­spon­dence last Fri­day from Metro FM pro­gramme man­ager Tony Soglo.

City Press has seen the writ­ten in­struc­tion and it reads, in part: “Com­mu­ni­ca­tion has been sent to all ra­dio sta­tions to stop hav­ing open lines for this cur­rent pe­riod be­fore the lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions.

“This will mean that we will not have any more open lines un­til af­ter the elec­tions and this will be com­mu­ni­cated through to the whole team.”

Soglo said that “this is done to pro­tect the sta­tion and the SABC against any­body who could po­ten­tially use the plat­form for their own ben­e­fit and also use it for elec­tion­eer­ing”.

An­other email, this time from the gen­eral man­ager for ra­dio, Leuba Ra­mak­golo, clar­i­fied the is­sue.

“It is an edi­to­rial de­ci­sion the busi­ness has taken and it should not be un­der­stood as can­ning.”

He wrote that elec­tions work­shops were held re­cently “to ex­plain to pre­sen­ters and pro­duc­ers our ap­proach to elec­tions-re­lated con­tent”.

Mabote re­fused to speak to City Press on Fri­day and re­ferred ques­tions to SABC spokesper­son Kaizer Kganyago.

Kganyago said Metro FM had not closed open lines for any cur­rent affairs pro­gramme. He said peo­ple were be­ing ma­li­cious or mis­un­der­stand­ing the in­struc­tion.

“We have said to peo­ple that when it is al­most closer to time for elec­tions, we don’t want pro­gram­ming to deal with political is­sues. We want political is­sues to be dealt with by news and cur­rent affairs be­cause it is made out of jour­nal­ists who are able to han­dle that. Peo­ple who are pre­sen­ters, some of them are not equipped to deal with those is­sues.”

Kganyago said pre­sen­ters whose pro­grammes were not cur­rent affairs should de­ter­mine their top­ics and they should not ac­cept calls out­side that topic.

“We are then say­ing that, for this pe­riod, avoid do­ing open line if you are not a cur­rent affairs show. You are cre­at­ing a sit­u­a­tion where any­body can say any­thing and that’s when is­sues of pol­i­tics are then sneaked in dur­ing open line.”

Kganyago said if peo­ple wanted to dis­cuss pol­i­tics they ought to call in to spe­cific cur­rent affairs shows.

“There is noth­ing new about what we are do­ing. We have done that be­fore. So now we are be­ing pro-ac­tive about it to warn them against open lines dur­ing this pe­riod

“We are not talk­ing ANC here; peo­ple are just de­lib­er­ately mis­lead­ing peo­ple. Pol­i­tics is not ANC. It’s ma­li­ciously and de­lib­er­ately try­ing to mis­lead peo­ple,” said Kganyago.

Mabote hosts Metro FM Talk on Mon­days and Tues­days from 7pm to 9pm. How­ever, not all ra­dio sta­tions were af­fected. Other SABC talk show hosts said they were un­aware of the di­rec­tive.

Do you think the SABC should stop lis­ten­ers from air­ing their views be­fore

the elec­tions?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word SABC and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

PHOTO: EL­MOND JIYANE

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