'Snuff film' complaint rejected

2009-08-27 22:04

Johannesburg - A complaint about a documentary showing a guinea pig getting its throat slit was rejected by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA).

"Viewers tuned into documentary programmes of this nature should accept that they run a certain degree of risk that they will be seeing customs of other cultures, like the slaughtering of animals, that might shock or offend," the commission said in a statement released on Thursday.

It said the complaint related to a travel documentary about the lifestyle of Chinese people in Peru shown on DStv's Travel Channel on July 3 at 11:00.

'Animal snuff film'

At a BCCSA hearing held earlier this month, the commission dealt with a complainant who felt "deeply disturbed" after watching the programme.

"I would be really appreciative if you could warn them against this kind of programming in the future to save me and everyone else the trauma of having to watch the equivalent of an animal snuff film," the complainant said.

She said she was particularly "troubled" that it had been aired during the school holidays at a time children could watch it.

"Every time I think about it I burst into tears and I am an adult with a fairly thick skin - I can only imagine what effect this would have on a child."

She said at the very least there should have been a warning to viewers that sensitive material would be shown.

Educational show

The commission said that during the hearings it determined that the purpose of the show Globe Trekkers was to educate viewers about different cultures around the world.

In this context, a Chinese chef is shown demonstrating how Peruvians prepare guinea pigs for cooking.

He is shown "cutting its throat, draining its blood, then (skinning it) and removing the innards for cooking".

The commission said while there was a close-up shot of the guinea pig while still alive and in a little cage, the actual throat-slitting was in a long shot.

"[The slitting scene lasted] maybe a second and (had) no gory detail.

"One does see some blood gathering in the bowl in which the guinea pig is being held, but this scene is a split second in duration."

The commission said it was also clear from the scene that the guinea pig was already dead when its throat was slit, and appeared to have been killed in a humane way.