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11 September 2010

SOS Feedback - "The SABC Crisis: Finding Lasting Solutions"

Dear DFA Memebers,

Some news from SOS on its recenet event (this week on the 7th) at Constitution Hill, SOS event - "The SABC Crisis: Finding Lasting Solutions" at which SASFED Co-Chair Feizel Mamdoo got the chance to interface with SABC Board Chair Dr. Ben Ngubane.

Hello all

I wanted to give you all feedback from yesterday's event. We had a great turnout. Thanks to all of you for coming and thanks to Jayshree for organising the event. As I am sure you were all aware the Chair of the Board, Dr. Ben Ngubane came. He was given space to put forward his views on the appointment of the Head of News. Also, he raised some issues re: the functionality of the Board. He gave us feedback in quite a lot of detail about the scoring of the candidates for the Head of News post. He stated that three people scored but two board members refused and that in the end he had no option but to go ahead and make the appointment. He also stated that he had got legal advice before he had made the decision. He also commented on the suspension of the CEO he stated that he personally felt that it was premature and that Solly had not been given enough time to design the strategy, that it was a work in progress and that actually quite a lot of work had been done. Unfortunately there were no board members present to either concur or deny these statements. As SOS we thanked Dr. Ngubane for making these inputs and for clarifying the issues from his side but we said that it was still essential that we go ahead with the Parliamentary hearing in the open and that we get all sides of the story. Also there was discussion around the Board's statement that the full Board has now endorsed the appointment of the Head of News. There was lots of discussion but ultimately it seems that we need more information on the actual procedures followed re: the appointment of the Head of News. Hence the need for Parliament to look into this issue. It will not be healthy for the SABC or for Phil Molefe if these issues are not clarified because it puts the SABC's credibility and especially SABC News's credibility into question.

On the issue of the Parliamentary hearing apparently SANEF has withdrawn its legal challenge. The Portfolio Committee is therefore free to hold the hearing and should do so as soon as possible and in the open.

A number of people asked us from the floor if the Board should be removed. Dr Ngubane stated that if Parliament felt that the Board should be removed then he was happy to abide by that decision. From SOS's side we said that it was impossible to talk about removing the Board at this point. Until you have the Parliamentary hearing, we won't have the facts.

Further, we had a very good discussion about the Public Service Broadcasting Bill. The overwhelming sentiment at the seminar was that we need to seriously engage with the Bill, that we need to look at international best practice etc. and put forward a number of options for funding, governance issues etc.

Also, the independent producers were given space to put forward a host of their issues around programming and governance issues at the SABC. Feizel Mamdoo said that there had been a particular point in the SABC's history when the independent producers and the SABC had cooperated well. They had produced a joint document about intellectual property rights. These resolutions need to be revisited.

Finally, both Dr. Ben Ngubane and members of SABC management stated that they welcomed input and that there was a particular stakeholder division in the SABC tasked with communicating with the public. SOS and its members must certainly engage in these forums.
I will be asking Pat and Feizel to send through their notes to supplement this report back. Also, do share your thoughts on this.

Warm regards


Kate Skinner
Campaign Coordinator - SOS:Support Public Broadcasting
(082) 926-6404

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