The SABC unwittingly screened a protest on Friday – but had no idea that it was doing so and that the protest taking place right under chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s nose was by the public broadcaster’s own news staff.
In an open revolt against Motsoeneng‚ SABC journalists wore black throughout the day in an on-air “blackout” in solidarity with eight colleagues fired for challenging the broadcaster’s censorship policies‚ which include a ban on coverage of violent protests.
One journalist‚ who spoke to the Times Media Group Digital on condition of anonymity‚ said the protest had been organised by word of mouth so that no “paper trail was left”.
Wearing black was a resolute show of strength by SABC staffers to show their open defiance of the public broadcaster’s Draconian policies and newsroom interference the last few months.
The on-air “blackout” on SABC News and the SABC’s various TV news bulletins was however primarily done to show their united support for the eight SABC journalists who were suspended, then fired for voicing concern over chief operating officer COO Motsoeneng’s censorship orders.
From junior to senior SABC reporters and producers to anchors, the SABC news staff sent a powerful and very clear message to SABC management and South Africa that they’re tired of intimidation in their radio and TV newsrooms and the misguided news censorship policy that was unilaterally imposed on SABC journalists on May 26.
Since no SABC staffers openly talked about why they’re suddenly all dressed the same, and with a large number of SABC journalists and anchors who showed unspoken solidarity by “co-incidentally” wearing black, the SABC’s acting CEO James Aguma and Motsoeneng won’t be able to suspend or fire, or take them all off the air for their “blackout” protest.
The dressed-in-black protest carried on throughout the entire day on all the SABC’s various TV news bulletins across all its channels, and on the SABC News channel where reporter after reporter and anchors dressed in unified black showed unity until just before the channel ended its live coverage of the day after 23:00 with reporter Tumaole Mohlaou as the last one appearing dressed in black on Your World.