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SABC says it is still engaging with ICASA committee over recommendations

The SABC says it is still engaging ICASA’s Compliance and Complaints Committee (CCC) of ICASA over its recommendations and whether these recommendations have been properly endorsed by the ICASA Council‚ as this is a requirement in law.

The recommendations by the CCC are to do with the SABC’s editorial decision not to broadcast the destruction of property during protests.

Earlier this month‚ the Independent Communications Authority of South African (Icasa) ordered the SABC to reverse its decision to ban footage of destructive protests.

The SABC’s statement followed news that four of the eight senior journalists suspended for challenging the public broadcaster’s editorial policies has been fired

The four journalists – Foeta Krige‚ Suna Venter‚ Jacques Steenkamp and Krivani Pillay – were notified by email late on Monday afternoon that they had been dismissed‚ Solidarity spokesman Anton van der Bilj told TMG Digital.

He said the reason given for their dismissal was essentially that they had failed to comply with SABC policy.

The eight journalists‚ who have been facing disciplinary action‚ last week filed an urgent application to the Constitutional Court to have their charges declared unlawful and Solidarity is to apply to the Labour Court on Thursday for an urgent interdict to have their suspensions set aside.

The senior journalists were suspended after speaking out against a decision by the public broadcaster’s chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng to ban news coverage of violent protests.

In a statement on Monday evening‚ the SABC said that on July 12 and again on July 14 it had addressed letters to the CCC of ICASA‚ requesting amongst other things‚ confirmation that the ICASA Council “considered their recommendations as contained in the CCC’s judgment”.

“In response to our request‚ on the 15th of July 2016‚ the SABC was instead furnished with a copy of a press statement that was released by the Acting Chairperson of ICASA‚ dated 11 July 2016‚ which according to the SABC did not address the request made to the CCC.

“Today‚ the SABC has addressed another letter to ICASA requesting the information that was previously requested and further clarifying to the CCC of ICASA‚ the basis upon which the SABC is of the view that there is no standing judgment. The judgment was firstly not communicated to the Chairperson of the SABC‚ as undertaken in the CCC’s recommendations and secondly‚ because the CCC has up to this far‚ not given the SABC confirmation that their recommendations were endorsed by the ICASA Council‚” the public broadcaster stated .

Once the organisation received all the documents requested‚ it would review the order accordingly‚ it said.

“In explaining the decision by the SABC to review the decision of the CCC‚ the organization would like to put it on record that‚ that decision was based on the understanding that the CCC will not forward a judgment until or unless it was properly endorsed by ICASA. It has however occurred to the SABC that the endorsement by ICASA Council might have not been made at the time of the release of the recommendations‚” the SABC said.

It added that it respected ICASA and remained committed to working with the regulator to resolve the matter.

“The SABC further like to put it on record that if there is a need it will take appropriate legal steps to deal with the matter‚ but until the SABC gets an order of the ICASA Council‚ it would not take any action as there is basically no judgment until the ICASA Council endorses the CCC’s recommendations.”