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BCCSA dismisses appeal over radio programme

2013-07-23 14:27

Cape Town - A man who complained about a SAfm radio programme was denied leave to appeal a ruling about the station's editorial policy, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) said on Tuesday.

Hassen Lorgat had complained about a programme which included interviews with Palestinian writer Susan Abulhawa and Sudanese ambassador to South Africa Ali Yousif Ahmed Alsharif.

He submitted that the public was not given time to interact with them, and said this undermined the public's right to interrogate their assertions.

This gave "the personalities opportunities to propagate a view which in some cases was blatant lies and distortions", he contended.

The SABC argued that the BCCSA did not have jurisdiction over its programme format.

BCCSA chairperson Kobus van Rooyen ruled at the start of the month that the complaint not be upheld.

In an appeal, Lorgat said the shows had failed to take calls from listeners, thus rendering the interviews "platforms for uncontested propaganda".

"The chairperson rules in favour of the SABC's censorship of public engagement in a programme 'In the Spotlight' that usually takes calls from the public," he charged.

He said the SABC's decision was against the public interest.

Van Rooyen responded in the appeal ruling that Lorgat's complaint, and the grounds of appeal, concentrated on the SABC's editorial activities.

"I express no opinion on allegations in this regard, since, even if proved to be true, it would not assist the case of the applicant before the Appeal Tribunal. The BCCSA has no jurisdiction in this regard," he said.

Dismissing the application for leave to appeal, Van Rooyen said the right of reply had been granted to people or organisations which were directly or indirectly affected by the alleged omission in the programme.

"It is not for the applicant to apply for that right without the mandate of such persons and organisations. The latter may very well not wish to reply, or become involved in a matter before this tribunal," he said.