Cape Town – The Big Debate current affairs talk show with host Siki Mgabadeli, censored and dumped by the SABC, is moving to eNCA (DStv 403) with a new season of 10 episodes which will start on Tuesday 19 November at 21:00.

Episodes of the new second season will also start at a slightly later date on the eNCA’s sister channel, the free-to-air commercial channel

The Sabido-run 24-hour TV news channel is picking up and taking over the public current affairs show after the SABC’s acting chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng unilaterally ordered The Big Debate off the air a month ago just before it was supposed to start its second season on SABC2.

Motsoeneng also ordered all repeats of The Big Debate stopped. The current affairs talk show had already filmed episodes by the time it was supposed to start and kept filming episodes.

The SABC didn’t want to explain its decision to pull The Big Debate other than admitting that it was the public broadcaster’s own fault in that the SABC “incorrectly commissioned” The Big Debate and that the SABC allowed the SABC newsroom to be “compromised”.

The decision led to public outcry and was followed by an organised public protest at the end of October at the SABC’s Auckland Park headquarters, triggered by growing concerns within South Africa’s civil society about the suppression of freedom of speech at the SABC.

Critics are once again pointing fingers at how far the South Africa’s public broadcaster has strayed from the public broadcasting mandate it is supposed to deliver on.

Although the pick-up solves one issue – returning a relevant, hard-hitting current affairs talk show to the air in South Africa, it doesn’t address the SABC’s ongoing erosion of quality current affairs programming and unbiased news delivery ahead of South Africa’s next general election in 2014.

Upcoming topics to be discussed on The Big Debate this new season will include the problems with public transport and government corruption.

Source: Channel24 – Thinus Ferreira