BCCSA rules in favour of Jackson Mthembu against ANN7

2018-02-09 17:06
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu.  (File, Beeld)

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu. (File, Beeld)

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Cape Town - The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) has ruled against Africa News Network 7 (ANN7) following a complaint by ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu in November 2017.

Mthembu laid a formal complaint against ANN7 last year after a segment showing six ANC MPs alleging that he "colluded" with the DA to schedule a debate on state capture in Parliament.

READ: Mthembu slams ANC MPs' accusations that he 'colluded' with DA in state capture motion

Mthembu slammed the suggestion. He also claimed the press conference had been staged, as ANN7 was the only media house present and that the network did not afford him right to reply.

In its judgment released on Friday, the BCCSA upheld Mthembu's right to reply to the segment before it was aired.

"It is unthinkable that the staff of the broadcaster who produced, edited and broadcast this programme on their TV channel was ignorant of this right and/or was not aware that their broadcast was in violation of this right and in contravention of the code of conduct.

"The fact that they repeated this pre-recorded programme the next day aggravates this contravention. The same can be said of the fact that they posted this programme on YouTube.

"It seems as if they were intent on causing maximum damage to the complainant.

Apology ordered, fine imposed

ANN7 owner Jimmy Manyi had initially apologised to Mthembu following the incident, and intervened to ensure the segment was pulled.

The tribunal however, said that the apology was not enough, as the broadcaster's denial that the press conference was a "sham" was aggravating circumstances.

"We agreed that this was one of the most serious contraventions that we have had to decide on," the judgment continued.

"The fact that the 'press conference' and the broadcasting thereof was done in bad faith, are aggravating circumstances, justifying a maximum fine of R80 000."

ANN7 was also ordered to issue a formal apology broadcast for two days - the same amount of time the original clip had been broadcast for, starting on February 16 at 20:00.

It would need to send the apology segment to the registrar of the BCCSA.

Mthembu on Friday welcomed the judgment, saying his office felt vindicated.

"This judgment ought to be a lesson to all media houses to never compromise journalistic values and principles in pursuit of narrow political agendas," Mthembu said.

Initial apology

Manyi, who had bought the channel from the infamous Gupta family in August, posted an apology to Mthembu in November on Twitter.

"Dear Cde @JacksonMthembu_ The word embarrassment does not even begin to describe how I feel about what @Ann7tv did to you," Manyi tweeted.

"ANN7 will play an apology throughout the day. AND your right of reply when you are ready."

Manyi promised that internal disciplinary proceedings would be "unleashed".

Mthembu explained before the debate that Parliament has, over time, established a rotational basis where political parties introduce motions for debate in the National Assembly.

That day was the DA's turn, he said.

He also said he would escalate the action of the MPs, which included Loyiso Mpumlwana, Moloko Maila and Mervyn Dirks, to the ANC's national leadership.

Read more on:    bccsa  |  ann7  |  anc  |  jackson mthembu  |  media

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