Mafia shows not for kids

2012-04-13 10:54

A complaint about a family rating given to two shows about the mafia on DSTV was upheld by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) today.

The BCCSA said the documentaries “Mafia” and “Inside: The Mob’s Bloody Valentine” were screened on the National Geographic Channel on January 23 at 10am and 1pm. They were advertised as “family viewing”.

However, viewer C Fowlds had complained that the programmes were unsuitable for children.
“The footage... was that of mutilated bodies and dead people. Very graphic images. My children have been scarred emotionally...,” he said.

A BCCSA tribunal upheld the complaint at a hearing in March, but decided not to punish the broadcaster, Multichoice.

Multichoice regulatory compliance manager Bruce Mkhize told the BCCSA the broadcaster took responsibility for contravening the broadcasting code by incorrectly rating the shows.

However, he said they were broadcast via satellite directly to subscribers from Britain.

He said the National Geographic Channel was a package bought by Multichoice, and it had no opportunity to vet shows before they were screened in South Africa.

Mkhize said Multichoice informed all international broadcasters that worked with it about South Africa’s classification requirements. Sometimes, though, mistakes happened.

In his ruling, BCCSA tribunal deputy chairperson Henning Viljoen said the shows should have carried a parental guidance rating.

However, the titles of the documentaries were also enough to warn parents and caregivers about their content.

“With names/words like ‘Mafia’, ‘mob’ and ‘bloody’, any reasonably informed viewer would immediately realise that this is not material for children,” Viljoen said.

The shows also did not have any close shots or graphic detail of dead bodies or “blood and guts”.
Viljoen said in many of the BCCSA’s judgments the tribunal had discussed its duty as commissioners to protect children against material that could harm them.

“At the same time, we have stressed that parents and care givers also have a duty to exercise control over the type of programmes that children in their care watch on television.”

The tribunal concluded that Multichoice had taken responsibility for the mistake, which was not serious enough for the company to be punished.

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