MultiChoice recently handed over a state-of-the-art broadcasting studio to Parliament, much to the delight of Parliament’s Presiding Officers, who were present at the handover event. They noted that the studio will go a long way towards making Parliament’s long-held goal of launching a broadcasting service, to ease the institution’s reliance on the commercial media outlets for coverage of parliamentary news and information.  

“We are grateful to the MultiChoice Group for their unwavering support to the Parliament Broadcasting Services and for ensuring that Parliament can fulfil its mandate of facilitating public access to its work,” the Presiding Officers said. They further noted that the studio will have a positive effect on the accuracy, speed and dissemination of news about Parliament’s legislative processes, its oversight programmes and initiatives and public participation processes, which are the pillars of South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

The studio handover is particularly timely, said the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, as the country is on the cusp of celebrating 30 years since the democratic transition. She observed that the handover forms part of South Africa’s maturing democracy and is a symbol of the growing importance of the relationship that exists between Parliament and South African citizens.

Furthermore, the Speaker welcomed the fact that the studio leverages the benefits of recent digital communication technologies, thereby enhancing Parliament’s ability to interact with its constituents. The use of various social media and other digital platforms available in the new studio will afford citizens free and full access to Parliament’s news and events, and enable interactions that will improve transparency, accountability and dialogue between the people and their elected representatives in a way not previously possible.

MultiChoice’s involvement in this initiative, Ms Mapisa-Nqakula pointed out, is a shining example of what can be achieved through a successful private–public initiative in a collaborative effort to better serve society.

The new studio thus forms part of the legacy the sixth Parliament bequeaths to the seventh that will be sworn in after the 2024 national and provincial elections. Future generations will also be able to build on the advantages the studio provides, she said. Moreover, as the previous broadcasting studio was destroyed in the fire that gutted the National Assembly building in 2022, Ms Mapisa-Nqakula reflected, “It therefore stands as a symbol of the phoenix, the ability of our people to rise, again and again, to defeat adversity. This is our gift and homage to them,” she declared. 

MultiChoice CEO Mr Calvo Mawela then spoke, saying that the studio matches the global standard. “Parliament is a foundation of our democracy. As a South African and African company, it’s our responsibility to ensure that democracy continues to thrive in Africa.”

At the conclusion of the handover ceremony, the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mr Amos Masondo, noted that the new studio is a culmination of Parliament’s painstaking, longitudinal research aimed finding creative and effective strategies to improve its interface with the citizenry. “According to the 2021 annual surveys conducted by research agency IPSOS Markinor, television remains a primary source of news on Parliament for approximately 80 to 90 percent of the South African public. Similarly, over 60 percent of the population relies on radio for news on parliamentary activities. These statistics highlight the significant role that television and radio play in shaping public opinion and understanding Parliament’s work,” he explained.

He further conveyed Parliament’s deep gratitude to MultiChoice for its invaluable contribution to South Africa’s democracy. “We would like to thank the MultiChoice board and executives for their continued support that has made this renewed partnership possible. To the Group CEO, Mr Calvo Mawela, we appreciate your commitment and tenacity to help ensure that our democracy works through the continued contribution that your organisation makes to Parliament – through the Parliament TV channel.”

Abel Mputing
8 February 2024