How fair and unbiased is election media coverage?

Different media houses have been out in the streets covering the 2016 Local Government Election. But have these media organisations covered the processes in a fair and unbiased manner?

Sanef is committed to championing South Africa’s freedom of expression and promoting quality, ethics and diversity in the media.

Speaking to Pippa Hudson, Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Gallens says that it is difficult to tell if the coverage was fair and unbiased at the moment. Unlike general elections, local government elections are difficult to cover because of the large number of candidates taking part, says Gallens.

Sometimes it is not easy to give all of the 60+ people that are on the ballot in any particular area a voice to be able to speak. Media organizations would try to find a way that does spread in terms of giving people a voice but its not going to be easy to give every body a voice

Mahlatse Gallens, Sanef Chairperson

Because of lack of resources you would find they are not able to cover local election campaigns by ward Councillors and the focus tends to be on national political leaders of different parties.

Mahlatse Gallens, Sanef Chairperson

Gallens says that when talking about being fair and unbiased coverage, we should not put all media organisations in one basket as they all do not have the same mandate in terms of reach.

She says the focus of political parties was on a national level rather than on local candidates, which made it difficult for coverage to include the local candidates.

I also think the ward candidates haven't been creative in getting voters in their area to be aware of who they are which makes it harder for the media to reflect on those

Mahlatse Gallens, Sanef Chairperson

Callens is also the deputy political editor for the SABC and says the Public Broadcaster has made sure that they have cover all the party manifestos since the start of the elections build up.

She says the broadcaster has not received any formal complaints from political parties with regards to coverage. Those that are unhappy can forward their complains to Icasa.

Listen to the full conversation below:

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