South Africa : E-archive on transformation of SABC

The transformation of broadcasting in South Africa:

A history of the Campaign for Open Media (COM) and the Campaign for Independent Broadcasting (CIB)

The FXI has compiled an e-archive of the history of broadcasting transformation in South Africa in the 1990's. The e-archive is now available in hard copy form and electronically. The e-archive of documents tracing this history and a narrative of this history has been compiled for the FXI by Tusi Fokane.

During the 1990's, the country moved from being an apartheid state to a constitutional democracy, with the first democratic elections taking place in 1994. The documents trace the work that was done to transform broadcasting from a state controlled sector to one characterised by diversity and independent regulation.

More specifically the documents trace the work of the Campaign for Open Media (COM) and the Campaign for Independent Broadcasting (CIB). The documents relate to the establishment of South Africa’s first broadcasting regulator, the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), as well as the transformation of the South African Broadcasting Corporation from a state broadcaster to a public broadcaster (more specifically the process of appointing the first independent SABC Board).

The intention of establishing this e-archive is to make the information available internationally, so that it can inform governments, media practioners and activists seeking to transform state broadcasting to public broadcasting in other parts of the world. The e-archive may also be of interest to people who wish to assess the successes and failures of broadcasting transformation in South Africa.

COM was a lobby group established to achieve the public and transparent appointment of a new Board for the SABC, as well as to monitor the media in the run-up to the elections, lobby for the establishment of the IBA and the scrapping of censorship legislation. COM helped to establish an umbrella group of 37 organisations in November 1992, called the Campaign for Independent Broadcasting. The CIB broadened the lobbying base around the appointment of the SABC Board, resulting in its appointment on May 31, 1993, after a civil society-led process.

While the history of COM and the CIB has been documented in numerous papers and books, the original documents relating to this period of broadcasting history have not been accessible to the public, and have been held by the FXI since its inception in 1994.

These documents include the following:

- Nominations for the first independent SABC Board;

- Minutes of briefing meetings and meetings to formulate positions for the CIB,

- Briefing documents on the SABC and the IBA for use by negotiators in the multi-party negotiations that preceded South Africa’s elections;

- Memorandum of agreements from multi-party negotiations;

- Correspondence, including letters between the then-State President’s office (FW De Klerk) and the CIB;

- Drafts of the programme of action of the CIB, as well as campaign documents and written mandates;

- CIB correspondence to the new SABC Board;

- Guidelines for the appointment of the new SABC Board (and submissions on these guidelines);

The key documents have been made available electronically at

The full archive is available in the FXI's resource centre at :

5th floor

Argon House

87 Juta Street

Braamfontein, 2017

tel: +27-11-403-8403

fax: +27-11-403-8309