Snuki Zikalala, group executive for news and current affairs says the SABC “owns” the 2009 elections. “No other medium can compete with the coverage we will provide.”r /r /Gab Mampone, acting group CEO, revealed that the public broadcaster has budgeted R42-million in infrastructural costs for election coverage. This represents an increase of 10% over the amount spent covering the 2004 elections.r /”Nobody is funding us financially… the SABC is spending money to ensure that we bring the full story from the elections,” he says.r /r /According to Zikalala, their coverage of this election will be extensive. “It is more challenging now that a new party has emerged. We are employing outside broadcasting units and we will have live broadcasts in various regions.”r /r /SABC News has also introduced special election slots and formats. At 9pm on January 11 the first of a series of multi-platform election debates will be aired on SABC2, SAfm, SABC News International and sabcnews.com. r /r /In an apparent attempt to illustrate a lack of bias, studio guests on January 11 will include Jeff Radebe (ANC), Mosiuoa Lekota (COPE), Helen Zille (DA), Mangosuthu Buthelezi (IFP) and Bantu Holomisa (UDM). This will set the tone for future weekly debates.r /r /In addition an SABC complaints officer has been appointed. Zolile Majova will deal with concerns raised by political parties. Majova would not be drawn on the volume of complaints received to date, nor the nature thereof.r /r /Until the official election date is announced, Zikalala and his editorial teams are working towards May 6. “During election week we will offer extensive coverage across all of our platforms, anchored from national and provincial election centres.” r /r /This will include the run-up to the elections, plus results coverage through until the final announcement, which is expected on May 8.