mce_keep=”true”1. What is the SABC doing well?
It’s doing well in terms of local content Ã¢Â€Â“ compared to ten years ago I think the SABC has improved a lot. The fact that we have news in all languages is good for the SABC. There’s still a lot more we can do.RR 2. What would you like to change at the SABC?
I would still like to see more content in many languages.
I’d like to see more local content produced genuinely by different communities; more content that really talks to life in South Africa.
The one specific thing I would really like to see, is improvement in the way we create access for people with disabilities. I think we have subtitles here and there, but it’s not as consistent as it should be.
3. What has changed at the SABC since the href=”//www.fxi.org.za/pages/Media%20n%20ICTs/SABCComplaint/SABCBLACKLISTREPORT.pdf” target=_blank mce_href=”//www.fxi.org.za/pages/Media%20n%20ICTs/SABCComplaint/SABCBLACKLISTREPORT.pdf”Sisulu commission of enquiry’s investigation into the blacklisting of commentators and analysts and related matters?
We haven’t thrown the report out of the window. We will be looking at the recommendations and see how we take it forward.
If the issues that came out of the report are still with us Ã¢Â€Â“ then let’s look at how we have done since that time. Negatively, what were the things that were affecting the SABC then, are they still there and what is it that we need to do?
4. How transparent is the SABC?
I think we are very transparent. There is always access to information.
If we were not transparent, I think there wouldn’t be so many complaints. That’s my view. I may be wrong.
But the fact that people know the decisions that we take and they raise objections (would show) people know what we are doing.
They might not like what we are doing, but at least they have the knowledge.
!_LT_STRONG5. Why did it take the SABC months to href=”//www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=317484&area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__national/” target=_blank mce_href=”//www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=317484&area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__national/ “suspend Mafika Sihlali, !_LT_/STRONG!_LT_STRONGits former head of legal affairs, and to communicate the action it had taken in !_LT_/STRONG href=”//www.thetimes.co.za/article.aspx?ID=521296″ target=_blank mce_href=”//www.thetimes.co.za/article.aspx?ID=521296”!_LT_STRONGthat case!_LT_/STRONG!_LT_STRONG?!_LT_/STRONG !_LT_EM(The SABC’s Group CEO had been advised to suspend Sihlali in April 2007; he was suspended at the end of August.)!_LT_/EM
In that time when we were not communicating, the issue was in the audit committee and being discussed and looked at; legal opinion was sought.
So, it was not just deliberating, not taking action. It was to make sure when we take action we have all the evidence. So it doesn’t come back to us.
6. What are your views on the ANC’s href=”//www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/conf/conference52/resolutions-f.html” target=_blank mce_href=”//www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/conf/conference52/resolutions-f.html”proposal for an increase in government funding of the SABC, from approximately 2% to “a minimum of” 60% by 2010?
The SABC carries a huge public mandate and I think the mandate needs to be funded. Maybe the question is how.
I think it is possible for us and government to identify specific areas (for instance accessibility in all languages) in the public sphere that government can fund.
There is that perception that if government puts in more money, they will control. I’m not worried about that.
If people question government contributions, they should possibly question commercial funding as well. Right now we are on way over 60% of commercial funding, but nobody is questioning that.
I’m not too concerned if we can find ways of making sure we can account for every cent that government puts in and we can demonstrate that this is what it does in terms of the mandate.
7. What do you think about the ANC’s href=”//www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/conf/conference52/resolutions-f.html” target=_blank mce_href=”//www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/conf/conference52/resolutions-f.html”proposed Media Appeals Tribunal?
There should be huge debate around the media tribunal. I think the ANC should explain thoroughly how it sees the media tribunal pan out.
We need to engage on that. I don’t have a specific view Ã¢Â€Â“ whether yes or no.
8. How do you plan to deal with the perception of government interference in the affairs of the SABC?
It is a very difficult area to work in.
I acknowledge the fact that the ANC is the ruling party. So, in a way it has a presence in the public domain.
Right now, if you look at the criticism of the SABC, the ANC itself is saying: We are not covering the ANC as they want us to cover them.
I think at this point in time the criticism has been that we cover one side (in the ANC) and not the other side.
A few years ago the DA was saying we are not covering the DA, we are covering the ANC. And now it is the ANC that’s saying: ‘You’re not covering’.
The important thing is for the SABC to listen, to interact more and to establish some stakeholder relationships.
I don’t think it’s the SABC alone that is being questioned at this point in time. The print media is also being criticised. We are moving into election period in 2009, so that criticism will increase.
Listening and engaging is for me the way to go. The one thing we cannot lose as the SABC is editorial independence.
9. What is the SABC doing to retain talent?
Last year we developed a retention plan to identify ‘hot skills’ and work out how to retain them.
For sure, losing skills is one of our major nightmares right now. I think, considering that there are four new (pay-TV) players, I think it could have been worse.
Of course, money is an issue. We can’t always match it, but we are getting new people (from other broadcasters). As we lose some, we gain some.
10. What would you like to leave behind at the end of the new board’s term?
I want to leave an SABC that is genuinely a public broadcaster Ã¢Â€Â“ a broadcaster that is accessible in terms of languages and content, that is dependable in terms of information, that is not controlled by any funds, either from government or from the commercial sector.
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org