Parliament - Tackling "chronic instability" and stamping out political interference at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) would help right the public broadcaster ship, MPs were told on Wednesday.

Former political reporter John Matisonn, a current member of the interim board which was appointed after the previous permanent board was dissolved, was being interviewed by members of Parliament's portfolio committee on communications.

"My appeal would be, if to say whether you choose me or not, some continuity - people who've done this work. It's taken us five months to understand many things in the SABC," he said.

"Political interference obviously is very, very damaging, but stability and the atmosphere this committee has created I think would be conducive to that stability."

Matisonn said while there had been no outright political interference, some covert attempts had been made to promote a certain political agenda. He did not substantiate.

"One gets signals indirecly that people would like things to be different but it may be understood that I am not responsive to that kind of pressure.

"One gets the sense that some people would like a more partisan engagement in the politics of the country. We spoke to the pubic, to all the journalists and said we don't know what happens in the politics of South Africa, so don't anticipate, cover everybody on news value and let people speak for themselves," he said.

He said the problem was found mainly in the newsroom.

"I don't want to name names, but there were people who saw their job to serve some political agenda and you can imagine what that is relating to the past regime and we were not able to move any faster, but I believe that problem has been mostly resolved," said Matisson.

"We had to look at whether the top people in news have journalism expertise...or were they there to serve a political purpose and there were some like that." 

Matisson told MPs that in the short five months he'd been part of the five-member interim board much had changed at the SABC, laying the groundwork for a permanent board.

"I really think we've stopped the fall in the SABC, financially.

"We've already done the interviews for the appointments of the senior executives. If those go through, we've done all the work to get the Treasury guarantee and if all of those things go through, I would say we took over a board in real crisis and we will do a proper handover to the new board, whether we're on it or not...and they will be able to hit the ground running."

African News Agency