Q: WHY DOES THE RELIGIOUS PROGRAMME POLICY GIVE SPECIAL ATTENTION TO AFRICAN RELIGION?
A: Religious broadcasting should strive to be contextual and relevant, and to reflect our African reality. Towards further correction test of the neglect of African culture in the public media, special attention is given to African Religion and traditional cultures
Q: WHY DO WE NEED THESE CORE EDITORIAL VALUES?
A: The values, based on those articulated in the Constitution — including national development, unity, diversity, non-racialism, non-sexism, democracy and human dignity — represent those things that are commonly held by South Africans to be important.
Q: HOW IS AIRTIME FOR RELIGIOUS PROGRAMMING ALLOCATED?
A: In allocating air time to religious groups, the SABC is committed to the principle of fairness and applies this principle in determining the time allocated to each group. These allocations are made on a three-yearly basis, after consultation with the Religious Broadcasting Panel (RPB), taking the following into account: • Data on the percentage of the population in each religious group, as per the latest available census information. • The need for each of the major religions to enjoy meaningful and sufficient programming of a faith specific nature • The need for all the religions to be reflected in religious programmes • The need for sufficient programming of a multifaith nature • The need to redress past imbalances in religious broadcasting.
Q: DOES THE SABC’S EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING POLICY COMMIT TO FORMAL OR INFORMAL EDUCATION OR BOTH?
A: The SABC commits itself to providing innovative educational programmes of excellent quality across our radio and television services, aimed at meeting the diverse formal and informal learning needs of all our audiences, including children, youth and adults.
Q: WHAT PRIORITY IS GIVEN TO EDUCATION NEEDS?
A: The SABC ensures that its educational programmes address imbalances in the historical provision of education, especially, but not exclusively, those based on race, gender and disability The SABC links its educational broadcasting to national priorities and needs, supporting the achievement of outcomes-based education, lifelong learning, and the association of educational and life experiences
Q: WHAT ARE THE SIX BROAD AREAS IN WHICH THE SABC PROVIDES EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMES ACROSS ITS SERVICES?
A: Arising from the Broadcasting Act, the SABC has identified the following educational programme areas: • Early Childhood Development • Children at Home • Formal Education • Youth Development • Adult and Human Resources Development • Public Education
Q: WHO DO I CALL IF I HAVE A QUERY ABOUT THE EDITORIAL POLICIES?
A: Contact the Policy and Regulatory Affairs Division at 714-3728 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: WHAT ARE THE THREE AREAS IN WHICH LOCAL CONTENT IS PRESCRIBED BY ICASA?
A: • Global local content quotas for each television channel. These stipulate that a percentage of the air time between 05:00 and 23:00 should be allocated to local content. The global quotas distinguish between public and commercial television • Genre quotas. These stipulate that if a television channel carries a certain genre of programming (such as drama), a percentage of that type of programming is to be allocated to local content. The genres are defined in the ICASA regulations3 and span the following six areas: drama, informal knowledge building, children’s, education, documentary and current affairs. In each case a minimum percentage is prescribed These quotas also distinguish between public and commercial television • Independent production quotas. Here the stipulation is that a percentage of the total amount of local content aired must be allocated to independent television productions. These quotas make no distinction between public and commercial services. All the quotas are set out in regulations which may be reviewed by ICASA every three years.
Q: HOW MUCH OF SOUTH AFRICA’S POPULATION DOES THE SABC COVER WITH ITS THREE TELEVISION CHANNELS?
A: Coverage is currently as follows: SABC1 – 89% SABC2 – 91% SABC3 – 77%
Q: WHAT FACTORS ARE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT WHEN DECIDING HOW MUCH TIME EACH LANGUAGE GETS ON TELEVISION?
A: In determining allocation of time to each language, the SABC has due regard to: • The number of home language speakers in the coverage area of a channel • The geographical spread of the language • The extent to which members of a language community are able to understand other languages. • The extent of marginalisation of the language • The extent to which it is understood by other South Africans • Available resources.
Q: WHICH SOUTH AFRICAN LANGUAGES ARE RECOGNISED IN THE POLICIES AS MORE MARGINALIZED THAN OTHERS?
A: XiTsonga, TshiVenda, SiSwati and isiNdebele are recognised as being more marginalised than the others and there is an additional responsibility on institutions such as the SABC to address this marginalization.
Q: WHAT IS OUR APPROACH ON MULTILINGUAL BROADCASTING?
A: The SABC is conscious of the part multilingual programmes can play in promoting knowledge and understanding of the country’s diversity of languages and cultures. Such programmes, when used creatively, also reach out to wider audiences. Accordingly, the SABC actively encourages production of meaningful multilingual programmes as a means of attaining its language broadcasting objectives. Multilingual programmes are those that include substantial amounts of more than one official language.
Q: WHAT DOES “EQUITABLE TREATMENT “OF LANGUAGES MEAN?
A: The term equitable means just, fair and reasonable — not necessarily equal — treatment. In this regard, the SABC aims to broadcast every official language on television, while ensuring that programmes are accessible to as many viewers as possible. We aim to complement our national television service by providing regional services as required by the Broadcasting Act, (as amended) pending the licensing of these services by ICASA and appropriation of funds for this purpose, by Parliament. Equitability is achieved through a combination of means, including unilingual productions and multilingual programmes. We strive to explore the use of technologies such as subtitling to ensure that programmes are accessible to as many viewers as possible. At times this objective is met the best by broadcasting in cognate or widely understood languages. When this is applied, the SABC rotates the use of languages in any cognate group in order to achieve equitability.
Q: WHAT IS OUR POSITION ON NON-OFFICIAL LANGUAGES AND SIGN LANGUAGE?
A: The SABC commits itself to providing quality radio programmes in non-official South African languages, in particular in the Khoi, Nama and San languages. The SABC progressively expands the amount of programming that is signed, beginning with selected news and current affairs, and events of national importance. Special efforts are being made to provide Sign Language interpretation when programmes are recorded in front of live audiences.
Q: WHAT IS THE SABC COMMITMENT IN RESPECT OF BROADCASTING IN ALL OFFICIAL LANGUAGES?
A: The main commitments are to: • Provide a range of distinctive, creative and top quality programmes in all 11 official languages across our radio and television portfolio, and strive to reflect the needs of each language community in our programming • Maintain distinct and separate radio services in each of the 11 official languages • Treat all the official languages equitably on our television services • Integrate South Africa Sign Language into broadcasting as a means of making programming accessible to people with hearing disabilities • Strive to include other non-official languages spoken in South Africa, with particular emphasis on the Khoi, Nama and San languages.
Q: CAN AN ON-AIR MEMBER OF SABC NEWS STAFF BE A MEMBER OF A POLITICAL ORGANISATION?
A: In order to ensure the neutrality and credibility of its service, no on-air member of News may be an active member of a political party. This is to ensure that no allegations of bias are made against the SABC, no matter how justified or not they are.
Q: WHAT ARE THE GUIDELINES ON STEREOTYPING?
A: We undertake to include in our programming non-stereotypical representations of the disabled, women, black and homosexual people, and of any other South Africans who have often been marginalised by the mainstream media, or represented in narrow and stereotypical terms. The SABC’s policy is as follows: 1]To treat every part of society with respect 2] Not to identify people solely by ethnic origin, and to mention colour only when it is relevant to the topic under discussion 3] To avoid any unnecessary reference to disability, as it is often seen as insulting or implying deficiency, and not to use language that could add to such an impression: eg “deaf” or “hard of hearing” should be used, and “a person who has a disability” instead of “invalid” or “cripple” or “retarded” 4] To use non-sexist language so as to avoid giving offence, or creating the impression – through repetition – that certain activities are associated with only one sex.
Q: DOES THE SABC CONTROL WHAT MAY BE ADVERTISED ON ITS SERVICES?
A: Yes, to the extent that the SABC complies with the rules prescribed by the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa. The Sales and Marketing Division also reserves the right to accept or reject advertisements which are not deemed to be in the public interest or which are contrary to the SABC’s own Editorial Policies.
Q: WHAT IS ICASA?
A: The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is the regulator of telecommunications and the broadcasting sectors. It was established in July 2000 in terms of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Act No.13 of 2000. It took over the functions of two previous regulators, the South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA) and the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA). The two bodies were merged into ICASA to facilitate effective and seamless regulation of telecommunications and broadcasting and to accommodate the convergence of technologies. The Authority regulates the telecommunications and broadcasting industries in the public interest. Its key functions are to: • make regulations and policies that govern broadcasting and telecommunications • issue licenses to providers of telecommunication services and broadcasters • monitor the environment and enforce compliance with rules, regulations and policies • hear and decide on disputes and complaints brought by industry or members of the public against licensees • plan, control and manage the frequency spectrum and • protect consumers from unfair business practices, poor quality services and harmful or inferior products.
Q: WHAT JURISDICTION DOES THE ASA HAVE OVER SABC SERVICES?
A: The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) has jurisdiction over channel and station promos that are broadcast on any other SABC service (e.g. an RSG promo flighted on SABC2, or an SABC3 promo on SAfm), or on any other broadcaster’s channel/station. The ASA does not have jurisdiction over a channel/station promo broadcast on the same channel/station (e.g. an SABC3 promo flighted on SABC3).
Q: WHAT IS THE ASA?
A: The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) is an independent body set up and paid for by the marketing communications industry to regulate advertising in the public interest through a system of self-regulation. The ASA works closely with government, statutory bodies, consumer organisations and the industry to ensure that the content of advertising meets the requirements of the Code of Advertising Practice.
Q: WHAT IS THE BCCSA?
A: The Broadcasting and Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) is the body which receives and adjudicates complaints about broadcasting which are alleged to contravene the Broadcasting Code of Conduct. The SABC channels/stations provide copies of the material complained about and their comments to the BCCSA via the Office of the Manager: Broadcast Compliance. The BCCSA considers this and makes relevant judgments. In the extreme case, a Tribunal may consider a complaint. Complainants may attend and make submissions at Tribunal hearings. The BCCSA can fine a broadcaster found guilty of an infringement of the Code.
Q: HOW DO WE DEAL WITH COMPLAINTS FROM THE PUBLIC ABOUT OUR BROADCASTS?
A: Complaints from members of the public that are received at the SABC and relate to matters of policy, or compliance with the Code, are dealt with by the office of the Manager: Broadcast Compliance. When such complaints are received by the channels or stations, or in any other department, they should be referred to that office without delay. The SABC’s policy is to deal with every such complaint. The response is either prepared in consultation with, or communicated immediately to, the management of the channel/station concerned, or the relevant head of SABC News. The services are required to take ownership of complaints about their services.
Q: I HAVE HEARD THAT CENSORING A FILM IS ILLEGAL. IS THIS TRUE AND HOW DOES THE SABC HANDLE IT?
A: Censorship as it existed in the old era, where only the interests of a few were taken into account, is no longer sanctioned by South Africa’s new Constitutional environment in which there are very few limitations on freedom of expression. In order to allow audiences to make their own choices, the preference is to provide warnings on air to enable them to make such choices. It remains then the right of every individual to decide what to watch and regulate what children may watch.
Q: WHO DECIDES WHAT CHILDREN SEE OR HEAR?
A: Broadcasters may not transmit material that is unsuitable for children at times when large numbers of them may be expected to be in the audience. Despite this, the onus is on parents to take decisions on what their children may or may not watch, as long as we fulfil our obligation to air appropriate advisories which allow them to make this decision.
Q: DOES THE EDITORIAL POLICY PROTECT THE RIGHT TO DIGNITY AND PRIVACY?
A: The Code requires the electronic media to exercise exceptional care and consideration in matters involving the private lives and private concerns of individuals, bearing in mind that the right to privacy may be overridden by legitimate public interest. The SABC expects decisions of this kind to be taken with due consideration of the Corporation’s values.
Q: WHEN IS IT ACCEPTABLE TO BROADCAST SCENES OF VIOLENCE ON TELEVISION?
A: The Code of Conduct lays down very stringent requirements of when violence can be broadcast or not. To supplement this, the Programming Policy of the SABC states that scenes containing images of violence may only be broadcast if they are needed in order to portray legitimate information or context. The SABC therefore has a duty not to glamorise any type of violence, nor to promote it, and to depict it only when it could help to portray a story, evoke compassion, prompt help, or simply be an accurate representation of real events. If used at all, audience advisories are essential. The SABC’s aim is not to see how much violence will be tolerated, but how little is needed to achieve honest ends without undue dramatic or editorial compromise.
Q: WHAT IS THE SABC DOING IN TERMS OF DISCOURAGING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?
A: The Editorial Policies of the SABC specifically state that its programming content, when judged within context, does not promote violence against women depict women as passive victims of violence and abuse degrade women and undermine their role and position in society promote sexism and gender inequality reinforce gender oppression and stereotypes.
Q: WHAT IS THE SABC’S POLICY ON DISCRIMINATION IN RESPECT OF DISABILITY?
A: The SABC recognises that groups with disabilities often feel marginalized, and that it is a duty of the public broadcaster to promote access by these audience segments to its services and programmes and to ensure that the presentation of people with disabilities in our programming is fair. The SABC therefore treats people with disabilities respectfully in its programming, and we are committed to reflecting issues of disability in a way that does not perpetuate harmful negative stereotypes of the disabled. We are also committed to exploring mechanisms for enhancing our delivery to people with disabilities. Where possible, we also strive to involve disabled persons in such initiatives.
Q: WHAT DOES THE POLICY SAY ON OUR ROLE IN TERMS OF LANGUAGE USAGE IN PROGRAMMES?
A: A public broadcaster is an important source of information and culture, and could influence standards and values through its use of language. The SABC has therefore to maintain high standards of integrity with regard to language usage. Guidelines are as follows: • Not to use language simply for its shock value • Never to use profanity gratuitously • Not to ban the use of bad language in programmes, but to permit it only when it is defensible in terms of context and authenticity/credibility • That language usage should take religious sensitivities into account.
Q: WHAT DO I DO IF A PROGRAMME HAS PROFANITY?
A: The Code says that bad language, including profanity and other religiously insensitive material, should not be used in programmes that are specially designed for children. Further, that no excessively or grossly offensive language should be used before the watershed on television, or at times when large numbers of children may be expected to be in the audience. The SABC’s Programming policy acknowledges that although profanity has become a part of daily expression and hence is frequently used on television, it is offensive to many viewers. The SABC therefore endeavours to apply the “L” warning symbol rigorously when profanity is concerned, in order to minimize distress to those audiences who may be offended. The following BCCSA guidelines should also apply: • In the case of a drama or documentary unless particularly aggravating circumstances are present, taking in vain of the Lord’s Name may be used in post-watershed feature films by characters or persons portrayed in broadcasts, subject to due warning as to language, and with an appropriate age restriction. • In family time the words have to be removed insofar as it is possible to do so. High frequency is not allowed. • Where presenters use such language in a derogatory manner towards listeners – even after the watershed – it amounts to a contravention of the Code.
Q: IS THERE A WATERSHED TIME FOR RADIO?
A: Although the Code of Conduct for Broadcasters does not specify a watershed period for radio, the SABC abides by the dictum that stations do not broadcast material that is unsuitable for children at times when they are likely to form a large part of the audience. For instance, stations should be aware that children are likely to be listening to the radio while travelling to and from school.
Q: WHAT IS THE WATERSHED I KEEP HEARING ABOUT?
A: The watershed (21:00 – 05:00) is the time after which progressively more adult material may be shown on television. Before the watershed, material which is not suitable for children may not be shown. The watershed is regulated by the Code of Conduct for Broadcasters and infringements are dealt with by the BCCSA.
Q: WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS SYMBOLS WE USE AS WARNINGS?
A: The Code of Conduct for Broadcasters requires us to give audience advisories that are clear to audiences so that they can make informed choices about what they would like to see or hear; or allow their children to see or hear. These include age indicators (13, 16, 18), and symbols for content – Violence (V); explicit sexual conduct (S); nudity (N); bad language, including profanity (L); and prejudice (P).
Q: WHY DO WE HAVE TO GIVE ADEQUATE WARNING TO VIEWERS ABOUT CONTENT IN PROGRAMMES?
A: Careful scheduling and appropriate warning or advice allows our public to make informed choices about what they want to see and hear. This practice does not detract from the SABC’s editorial responsibilities in any way, but actually entrenches the culture of respect for freedom of expression, and the right to receive and impart information.
Q: WHAT POLICIES AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS GOVERN OUR PROGRAMME CONTENT?
A: We are guided by: • The Charter • The SABC’s Core Editorial Values • The SABC’s Editorial Code of Practice • Our obligation to comply with the industry standard, the Code of Conduct for Broadcasters, which is administered by the BCCSA • Our obligation to comply with ICASA licence conditions and regulations
Q: DOES THE GCEO HAVE CONTROL OVER NEWS AND PROGRAMMING?
A: The role of Editor-in-Chief is one of many responsibilities that the GCEO assumes and should not be confused with the functions of the Heads of Radio, Television, News, Sport and Education or of the other Editors and Channel and Station Managers employed by the SABC. The GCEO’s role is not to make day-to-day programming or newsroom decisions. However, the Board of the SABC delegates responsibility, and holds accountable the GCEO for the performance of all news and other programmes, broadcast and presented on all SABC radio, television, internet and other services.
Q: ARE THE SABC’S COMMERCIAL CHANNELS AND STATIONS ALSO PART OF THE PUBLIC BROADCASTER?
A: Yes. Although the SABC has commercial services which compete with private commercial services, these broadcasters are still considered to be part of the public broadcaster and must reflect the values of the public broadcaster in their programming. South Africa’s broadcasting legislation provides for a three-tier licensing structure for broadcasting services: public, commercial and community. The SABC is South Africa’s only public broadcaster, and for public accountability purposes consists of two separate divisions controlled by the Board: a public service division and a commercial service division, in each of which the SABC runs a number of radio stations and television channels. Each has a set of licence conditions that imposes obligations, including quotas for local content, and requirements for geographical coverage and language services. These are laid down by ICASA, which is responsible for monitoring compliance with the licence conditions and with the objectives of the Charter.