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BCCSA tribunal finds ANN7 in serious breach of Code of Conduct

09 February 2018

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa Tribunal (BCCSA) has found the Africa News Network7 (ANN7) in serious breach of the BCCSA Code of Conduct following the repeated broadcast of a video clip defaming ANC Chief Whip and member of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC), comrade Jackson Mthembu in November 2017.

On 27 and 28 November 2017, the ANN7, broadcast a video clip wherein six Members of Parliament, preceding a parliamentary debate on state capture, made comments, which the Tribunal of the BCCSA has found to be highly defamatory, insulting and were false allegations against the ANC Chief Whip. During the two days of ongoing broadcasting of this video clip, ANN7 also uploaded it onto their YouTube channel.

The Office of the ANC Chief Whip lodged a complaint with the BCCSA arguing that ANN7 failed to be impartial in their reporting by not affording the ANC Chief Whip a right of reply to remarks made against him. The ANC Chief Whip also argued that the ANN7 colluded with the six MPs by providing them a platform to defame him ahead of the ANC's 54th National Conference held in December 2017.

In its judgement, the Tribunal notes that "the right of a person to reply or to defend him/herself when criticised in a broadcast is a basic right originating from our Roman Law heritage and expressed as audi alteram partem. 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 You Tube. It seems as if they were intent on causing maximum damage to the Complainant."

The Tribunal found that "a news conference was crafted between the six MP's and the Broadcaster and that the news conference and broadcast thereof, were intended to sabotage the Chief Whip's political career. Contravention of the Code was found because the Complainant was not offered the opportunity to reply to allegations (admitted by the Broadcaster), because the clause relating to news was violated and because the dignity of the Complainant was infringed. Despite an apology by the Broadcaster, a maximum fine of R80 000 was imposed and the Broadcaster was ordered to broadcast an apology."

The Tribunal further ordered that "the apology must be broadcast for two consecutive days during times that correspond with the times on which the offending broadcasts were flighted. Thereafter the Broadcaster must send clips of the broadcast of the apology to the Registrar of the BCCSA."

The Broadcaster has indicated "that the apology will be broadcast on the 16th February 2018 at 8PM in every news hour wheel till 17th February 5PM."

The Office of the Chief Whip is vindicated by this ruling as it viewed the conduct of ANN7 having been in gross violation of journalistic ethics and standards as stipulated in the code of the BCCSA.

This judgement ought to be a lesson to all media houses to never compromise journalistic values and principles in pursuit of narrow political agendas. The Office of the Chief Whip welcomes this judgement.

A copy of the ruling can be viewed here.

Issued by the Office of the ANC Chief Whip

Enquiries:
Nonceba Mhlauli
Spokesperson
0726233462

     
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