SABC CEO Dali Mpofu conceded yesterday that the public broadcaster was
under political pressure, but said it was resisting this pressure, writes Hajra Omarjee in Business Day.

“The test is if you could withstand political pressure,” he said at a conference on media and electoral democracy held in Pretoria by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) yesterday. Participating political parties and experts criticised the media for “cheerleading”, “pushing an agenda” and lack of depth in their coverage.

Mpofu defended the SABC against accusations of being a state broadcaster, saying it adhered to “strict” editorial guidelines.

“I need to address this issue again; there is a difference between equal and equitable coverage to political parties in the run-up to an election,” Mpofu said.

The Human Sciences Research Council had found public confidence in the public broadcaster was high, he said.

“Since at least 2005 until now there are three institutions which have fared well. The first was the church, the SABC is second and then the IEC…. According to the research, the SABC has 72% of the public’s trust,” Mpofu said.

The meeting was of particular significance ahead of next year’s general election.

It also followed a barrage of criticism of coverage of the African National Congress’s (ANC) presidential succession battle, and was an attempt by the IEC to create greater understanding of editorial responsibilities, especially in regard to opposition political parties ahead of the election.

Although City Press editor Mathatha Tsedu said he was not politically aligned, he argued that it was “not wrong” to support a “particular party or candidate”.

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