Bathabile Dlamini.  Picture: THE TIMES
Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: THE TIMES

The SABC has conceded that it did not comply with its own editorial policies on sponsorship of programmes following a paid interview with beleaguered Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, which was broadcast in December 2017.

It emerged this week that Dlamini’s department was to pay the SABC for an interview that featured the minister and her spokesperson, Lumka Oliphant, on the programme Real Talk with Anele in December 2017. This was seen as an apparent attempt to clean up Dlamini’s battered image following the social grants debacle.

In a statement on Friday, SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the board’s news and editorial committee had met and considered the payment, amounting to R149,000, which is yet to be received by the public broadcaster. He said SABC management had resolved to inform the government communication and information system that the SABC will not invoice for the amount.

Kganyago added that the committee had concluded the SABC did not comply with its own editorial policies on sponsorship of programmes, which requires that the sponsor’s association with the programme be stated clearly, both before and after the programme.

"In this case, this was not done," he said. "The SABC does not charge for interviews, and this was a breach of organisational practice. We do solicit sponsorship for programmes where it is part of a marketing campaign to communicate a departmental or other client programmes or policies. There has been a breakdown in internal controls and processes in this specific instance."

Kganyago said the SABC will take various steps to ensure its editorial policies are not breached in future. He said the SABC will make certain that any grey areas with respect to sponsorship of programming are clarified and strengthened. The broadcaster will soon publish the new draft editorial policy for further public comment.

"The board news and editorial committee has instructed management to immediately look at strengthening upward referrals, and ensure measures are taken that staff across different genres, including entertainment are well-versed and compliant with editorial policies and Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) regulations."

"The SABC takes full responsibility for these lapses and breaches in editorial control, and wishes to communicate that the presenter and production company of Real Talk with Anele acted based on SABC’s instructions."

Kganyago said the board’s news and editorial committee was satisfied these lapses were as a result of editorial policies not being sufficiently integrated in the SABC entertainment division, and that the breaches were not intentional.

Kganyago said: "As stated, we will ensure standards are lifted across divisions. The SABC news and current affairs division was in no way involved in this matter. We assure the public that our news and current affairs division adheres to our policy of journalistic integrity and editorial independence."

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