It is not uncommon for people to pay for exposure on Real Talk with Anele, one of the executive producers of the talk show has said.
Yusuf Stevens says the SABC is a commercial channel and that mostly brands pay to be on the show.
This, however, is not handled by the Real Talk team, but by the SABC's sales representatives who also determine the rate.
"It is important to ensure the show is authentic. It's our job to take directives and make it fitting to the show," he said.
We still control the interview, do the research and make it interesting to the viewers. Nobody interferes with our scriptwriting or research process.
He differed from the view that the interview with Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, which reportedly cost the Department of Social Development a cool R500 000, was a fluff piece.
"Go onto YouTube and watch the show. Some tough questions were asked," he insisted.
"I don't think it was tainted at all. [Anele Mdoda] makes sure the integrity of the show is upheld."
He said the team was "merely agents of the SABC", who took instructions from the public broadcaster. Mdoda had no involvement in the financial side, Stevens said.
SABC acting group CEO Nomsa Philiso on Wednesday said selling interviews was not normal practice, especially since politicians belonged in news and not entertainment shows.
This after a preliminary investigation confirmed that the department paid for an interview featuring Dlamini and her spokesperson, Lumka Oliphant, on Real Talk in December last year.
She said she was looking into the details of what had transpired and was speaking to the relevant departments to get to the bottom of the matter.
The Daily Maverick on Wednesday reported that Oliphant contacted Mdoda, before pitching the feature to now retired chief director, Oupa Ramachela.
He reportedly rejected it, but acting chief director and head of legal services Advocate Nkosinathi Dladla later gave it the go-ahead.
Mdoda told News24 Oliphant had approached her about possibly featuring Dlamini, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Nomvula Mokonyane on her show.
She referred the spokesperson to the SABC as she does with all similar requests, Mdoda said.
She was not aware of people paying to be on the show, as this was "none of [her] business".
Oliphant denied anything was amiss and said that, through the Government Communication and Information System, the department buys media space to market and advertise the minister, the department and its agencies.
"To date, through [the] GCIS, the department has transferred more than R5m to the SABC for this purpose and we will not be apologetic for investing in the SABC."