The SABC has promised to deliver the most extensive election coverage yet, and has committed itself to reporting this period in a fair, balanced and accurate way, writes Jocelyn Newmarch in Business Day.


“In a time of economic slowdown and with organisations cutting back on operational expenditure, no other South African news organisation will dedicate the type of resources to elections as the SABC,” said acting group chief executive Gab Mampone at a media launch yesterday.

The SABC’s election coverage was expected to cost R32m-R42m, Mampone said — an increase of about 10% compared with previous elections.

For the first time, the broadcaster will also have to carry party election broadcasts (PEBs) on TV and radio, at no cost to the parties.

Mampone said the cost of producing these PEBs was borne by political parties, but there was an opportunity cost to the SABC in airing these broadcasts in advertising time. However, the SABC’s own self-promotion slots would be used for the broadcasts, thus mitigating the effect on advertising revenue.

Snuki Zikalala, group executive for news and current affairs, said that in addition to ongoing election coverage, special election programming would also be provided.

Town hall debates would also be covered, and regional parties would be given exposure.

A panel of 60 analysts will be selected for their expertise in election-related issues such as democracy and governance, service delivery, party politics, and socioeconomic issues.

“We don’t want wishy-washy analysts,” said Zikalala. “We want analysts who will give South Africans the information they need to make their choices.”

He said journalists were still experiencing intimidation from political parties, but that threats were being referred to the police.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.