South Africans march for media freedoms

The march coincided with what is known in South Africa as the "Black Wednesday", a day, in 1977, on which the apartheid government banned several newspapers

South Africans march for media freedoms

World Bulletin/News Desk

Around 200 South Africans on Saturday staged a march in their country's largest city, Johannesburg, to call for media freedoms.

The march coincided with what is known in South Africa as the "Black Wednesday", a day, in 1977, on which the apartheid government banned several newspapers.

"Unfortunately, we are facing similar challenges today, with our own new democratic government turning the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) into a non-public broadcaster," Dale McKinley, a spokesperson for the Right2Know Campaign, told Anadolu Agency just outside SABC headquarters.

Several protesters carried placards and flags of the Right2Know Campaign. They gathered outside the headquarters of the public broadcaster, where they listened to speeches delivered by various speakers.

"We want SABC Chief Operating Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, to retract his call for 70 percent good news and commit to 100 percent credible news on the broadcaster,” the campaign said in a statement.

The "Black Wednesday" will be officially marked on October 19. On this day three decades ago, the then white minority government banned several newspapers, which were accused of accommodating the "Black Consciousness Movement." Media practitioners were also arrested on that day.

The members of the Right2Know Campaign also staged protests outside other media institutions around South Africa, where they handed out notices containing their demands.

The campaign wants the public broadcaster to usher in an environment where journalists can broadcast difficult and controversial news without fear for their jobs.

McKinley said the public broadcaster was not listening to the people’s voice and did not cover issues of public interest, because its staff do not want to offend politicians.

"What we say is that we need to open up the airwaves," McKinley said. "We need to make sure that our hard-earned freedom of speech is not given up, because politicians do not want to be criticized," he added.

SABC, South Africa's largest media institution that operates a host of television and radio channels as well as online outlets, is the main media source for a large number of South Africans.

South Africans enjoy unfettered media freedoms, compared with other nations in the African continent. Recently, however, the public broadcaster came under fire for taking sides with the ruling party.

"We want SABC to do away with stale and irrelevant foreign soap operas like "Days of Our Lives, and "The Bold and The Beautiful" to give way to more local documentaries, drama and magazine shows," the Right2Know campaign wrote in its notice.

The demonstrators said they also wanted the broadcaster to launch a parliamentary channel.

"I am here to protest for media freedom because that is what our heroes fought for," Mike Mofkeng, a resident of Johannesburg, told AA outside the broadcaster's headquarters.

He said he supported the view that the public broadcaster should air more local content and start reporting corruption without favoring politicians. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Ekim 2014, 11:41