The commercial press is deliberately trying to "harm" the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and its board, MPs heard on Tuesday, reports News24.

"There is a concerted attempt by the commercial press to harm the SABC," SABC board deputy chair Christine Qunta told the National Assembly's communications committee.

The committee is currently interviewing nominees for appointment to the SABC board and Qunta is seeking reappointment to the board for a second term.

She was questioned by MPs for over two hours on Tuesday on a wide range of issues, including her role as chair of the SABC board's human capital committee.

Qunta said the media had created a negative perception of the SABC and board members, instead of balancing the good with the bad.

"The image of the SABC is not necessarily the reality of the SABC," she insisted.

There was also a racial bias in the media.

Qunta defended SABC news in general, and its controversial head Snuki Zikalala in particular, when questioned about his reappointment and allegations of bias in the SABC's news coverage.

The Democratic Alliance's Dene Smuts said Zikalala seemed "untouchable", and the SABC appeared to have a "clear Zimbabwe agenda derived from its pro-Mbeki [President Thabo] agenda".

Qunta said she and the board had full confidence in Zikalala.

He had applied for the advertised position and during the interview process, in which she participated, he was found to be most experienced and accomplished.

She was satisfied he was the best candidate for the job.

Zikalala had done much to "expand" the SABC's newsroom and "look after" its journalists.

He also did not "go against board policy" and did his job, Qunta said.

She further denied the existence of any bias in news coverage or a pro-Mbeki or pro-Zimbabwe government stance.

The commercial press gave only one side of the story, she said, and the SABC simply wanted to give the other side a chance to have its say.

For example, if Zimbabwe's opposition MDC said something, the government should have a chance to reply.

Qunta also said the SABC was currently considering funding options, including "significantly" increasing license fees and a government grant.

A submission in this regard was being prepared for Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, she said.

Qunta is one of 37 candidates short-listed by the committee for a position on the 12-member board.

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