South African media are censoring good news stories about the country, says SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
Motsoeneng, speaking on the sidelines of an SABC event in Johannesburg on Tuesday that awarded production contracts to local players, was responding to questions about allegations of censorship at the broadcaster.
Critics have lashed out at the public broadcaster’s decision this month not to broadcast footage of people destroying public property during protests.
Opposition parties, analysts and editors have slammed the SABC move by calling it censorship.
But Motsoeneng hit back at these criticisms on Tuesday.
“You know English is nice. What is the interpretation of censorship? How do you understand censorship?” Motsoeneng said.
“I can also twist that question to say that media generally — they don’t show good stories. For me it is censorship.
“I can say that because you are censoring what is good; you don’t show what is good, but you just show this bad element,” he added.
Motsoeneng went on further to say that local media fails to showcase “the many people who are doing well” in South Africa.
Explaining the SABC’s decision not to broadcast burning of public property, Motsoeneng said the media industry in South Africa should steer clear of inciting this activity.
“For me what is critical is that we as the SABC, or media generally, you can’t incite the public to burn property, because the property that people are burning it is not a ruling party property, it is community property,” Motsoeneng said.
“To be honest, media encourage people to commit this certain crime of burning and so on.
“Because you know yourself as a journalist that sometimes when people see you, they rush and burn because they realise media is among them,” Motsoeneng added.
However, Motsoeneng explained that SABC journalists will still go to scenes where property is being burned.
“People will always cover, our journalists will go and cover,” said Motsoeneng.
“Where we are saying we can’t encourage that is where people see the cameras of the SABC and journalists of the SABC [and]they go and burn property. We are saying we should not allow that to happen. That is what we are saying,” he said.