SABC stations fined for breaking election broadcasting rules

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Four SABC radio stations have been fined after being found guilty of contravening Municipal Elections regulations in August.

Five radio stations, Ukhozi FM, Metro FM, Radio Sonder Grense (RSG), Ligwalagwala FM and Good Hope FM, were all part of a number of stations flagged for violating 2016 Municipal Elections Regulations as lodged by the Broadcasting Compliance Unit of ICASA.

On the 17th August and 16th September 2016, the Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) heard arguments in respect to these allegations, and concluded that four will be fined for their actions.

Each station was fined for the following violations relating to contraventions of the Electronic Communications Act (ECA):

  • RSG –  Found to have aired. ads by the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) 48 hours before election day. The act prohibits media from carrying any political campaign ads two days before voting commences. The SABC has been fined R50 000 was imposed to the SABC, of which R35 000 is suspended for three years. This means that if the SABC is found by the CCC to have been in contravention of act during the said three years, it would add R35 000 to any sanction advised to Council at that stage and that Council would implement such fine.
  • Ukhozi FM – Found to have aired ads from two different political parties (the IFP and EFF) back-to-back. The SABC has been fined R5 000.
  • Metro FM – Found to have a DA political ad and  party election broadcast (PEB) back to back. The ECA provides that, “A Broadcasting licensee must not transit a PEB immediately before or after another PEB or immediately before or after a PA.” The SABC has been fined R5 000 for this.
  • Ligwalagwala FM – Found to have broadcast an ANC PEB when this slot was not scheduled for a PEB but for a political ad. Stations are not allowed to air PEB in place of a political ad, or vice versa. The SABC has been fined R5 000 for this.

The stations have also been ordered to read an apology explaining the contravention, for five consecutive days.

Icasa decided to accept the above recommendations of the CCC after taking into consideration the nature and gravity of the non-compliance, the consequence of the non-compliance and the circumstances under which the non-compliance occurred.