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Johannesburg - The SABC's decision to move Afrikaans programmes from SABC2 to SABC3 was illegal, the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) said on Tuesday.
“The FF Plus views the decision with regards to Afrikaans as illegal as the Afrikaans community did not have any say in an administrative decision which largely harms them,” said party leader Pieter Mulder.
The public broadcaster had shown disregard of the constitutional guarantees about the country's languages, Mulder said in a statement.
Beeld newspaper on Tuesday reported that the SABC was moving the prime-time Afrikaans programmes from the one channel to the other.
There were no Afrikaans news bulletins during the FIFA Soccer World Cup, which the SABC indicated was a temporary arrangement until the soccer tournament ended.
The public broadcaster denied quashing Afrikaans programmes.
“The changes happening have nothing to do with Afrikaans,” said spokesman Kaizer Kganyago.
He explained that new television soapies and other programming had been introduced, and the changes were across channels and time schedules.
“The SABC is not doing away with Afrikaans programming... we believe in granting all languages a platform across our television channels. The SABC subscribes to the Broadcasting Act to ensure all languages are treated,” said Kganyago.
Mulder, however, said some areas in the country had no access to SABC3 due to poor signals.
“It is clear how the new move will deny Afrikaans speakers in the whole of the Northern Cape, the Eastern Free State, the Eastern Cape and large areas of the Western Cape the opportunity to watch Afrikaans news as well as other actuality programmes such as 50/50 and Fokus in Afrikaans,” he said.
“It is a serious question as to why these viewers still have to pay their costly TV licences while they do not receive any services in Afrikaans.”
Kganyago said he had yet to hear a complaint about viewers in the four provinces not being able to view popular soapie “Isidingo”, which is aired on SABC3.
“The complaint about access is irrelevant. The SABC has nothing to do with connectivity. The SABC goes as far as using money from its coffers to buy low-power transmitters for viewers who cannot access an SABC channel in some areas,” he said.
The FF Plus intended on writing to Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi and the public broadcaster to address the issue.
“If the decision is not corrected, further steps will be considered on the basis of the legality of the SABC's actions,” Mulder said.