Commission slams SABC for violating code

2014-06-09 12:16

The SABC has been reprimanded for contravening the broadcasting code for not giving an organisation the fair right of reply.

“The errors of fact, together with the omission of relevant material, amounted to a contravention of the BCCSA [Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA] code,” the commission said in its ruling on Friday.

The commission said a fine was not imposed in the matter.

“Ultimately, the question arose whether a fine should not be imposed. To create an impression of dishonesty in a broadcast without sufficient grounds to do so is, certainly, a serious matter,” it said.

“We have, indeed, followed this approach where a person had unjustifiably been made out to be a paedophile. The present matter, although serious, is not as serious as that matter. We tend to agree with the complainant that the judgment itself is a satisfactory sanction. A reprimand would, in the circumstances, suffice.”

World-wide Foundation CC (a division of Rhino Force) lodged a complaint over a programme aired on the show 50/50, broadcast on SABC 2 on October 28. The subject of the interview was the sale of bracelets by the complainant, who had undertaken to donate the profit from each sale to saving rhinos.

The complainant argued that the interview on the show was not balanced, and, in spite of the SABC’s production team being provided with facts demonstrating the complainant’s honesty, the programme nevertheless chose to project an image of dishonesty.

The BCCSA held that while the original reason for the programme was reasonable and justified, and dealt with a controversial issue of public importance, the programme was not fair to the complainant.

“The programme included facts and opinions that were not based on facts, or on a reasonable perception thereof,” the ruling stated.

“Furthermore, the programme created an impression of dishonesty and/or lack of transparency on the part of the complainant, an impression which was not based on the facts.”

The commission found that the programme referred to facts, or opinion stated as facts, to which the complainant was not given a substantively fair right of reply.

“And in so doing, the programme did not provide sufficient balance to afford audiences the opportunity of forming their own opinions,” it said.

“... The complaint was upheld and the SABC reprimanded for its contravention of the broadcasting code.”

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