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About the SABC > Frequently Asked Questions



The SABC Editorial Policies have been approved by the Board, following an extensive process of consultation and input from stakeholders and the public.

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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).

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