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#SAelections24: Icasa rules in favour of DA's flag-burning advertisement

The South African Broadcasting Corporation's Ltd (SABC) refusal to air the Democratic Alliance's (DA) political advertisement featuring the national flag of South Africa burning and then unfurling as fully restored with background narration campaigning for the DA has been ruled to have no legal basis.
Source: © 123rf  Icasa rules in favour of DA against SABC on flag-burning election advertisement
Source: © 123rf 123rf Icasa rules in favour of DA against SABC on flag-burning election advertisement

The DA argued that the SABC, a public broadcasting service licensee under the Electronic Communications Act No. 36 of 2005 (ECA), unlawfully rejected the DA's political advertisement.

On 23 May 2024, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) approved the Complaints and Compliance Committee's (CCC) recommendations concerning the urgent elections complaint lodged by Icasa's Licensing and Compliance Division.

On 10 May the DA filed the complaint against the SABC to the Icasa.

No lawful justification

The complaint against the SABC was filed under regulation 6(6) of the National and Provincial Party Elections Broadcasts and Political Advertisement Regulations 2014 (as amended) (the Elections Regulations).

The complaint was referred to the Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) on 17 May 2024 for urgent adjudication as per the Chairperson's directives.

The complaint was investigated under section 17B(a) of the Icasa Act No. 13 of 2000, read with Regulation 6(7) of the Elections Regulations, and Regulation 6 of the Regulations Governing Aspects of the CCC 2010 (as amended).

Specifically, the CCC determined that the SABC contravened Sections 58(1) and 58(3) of the ECA read with Regulations 6(3), 6(5) and 6(9) of the Elections Regulations by refusing to broadcast the DA’s political advertisement without any lawful justification.

R500,000 fine

The CCC has recommended that the SABC be fined R500,000 for breaching the Regulations. The recommendation to the Authority, made under section 17E, took into account, the prejudice caused to the DA due to the SABC's refusal to air its political advertisements.

The CCC further recommended that the Authority:

  • Direct the SABC to cease its conduct of refusing to broadcast the DA’s political advertisement.
  • Direct the SABC to fulfil its obligations under the ECA and air the DA’sadvertisement.

The DA advertisement has elicited strong reactions, with the South African Human Rights Commission (HRC) condemned the burning of the South African flag.

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