The Gupta-owned news channel ANN7 has been ordered to pay a R10 000 fine and apologise for reporting that Western Cape premier Helen Zille had ever tweeted that “colonialism was not bad at all”.
She had in fact been criticised for tweeting that the legacy of “colonialism was not all bad”.
The alteration on ANN7 made her tweet appear grossly more offensive than it already was.
In May a viewer reported the inaccuracy to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA).
ANN7 first apologised for the inaccuracy in May, claiming that a video editor had in error added the word ‘at’ to the tweet.
However, in June the sharp-eyed complainant noticed that the error was repeated. The repeat infringement was therefore seen as far more serious by the BCCSA, which was why the fine was imposed.
The viewer complained: “I have just been listening to the 12.30pm ANN7 news (Sunday‚ June 4) and heard the presenter say that Helen Zille had said that ‘colonialism was not at all bad’. This is what the station had to apologise for on May 5. This makes me wonder how sincere the apology was … Today it was said vocally on a feature on Zille’s suspension‚ so the station cannot blame a video editor. ANN7 has never had any credibility‚ but it is getting worse and worse with its distortions of the news.”
The news channel was meant to have ensured the mistake could never be repeated after it made its earlier apology, but the footage was not removed from its system.
The complainant wrote last month: “In both instances relatively junior but important staff members are blamed. They clearly need training in basic journalism and ethics and senior staff members should monitor news broadcasts and correct misinformation immediately‚ not wait for an official complaint to be made.”
Last month, Zille buckled under pressure and apologised unreservedly for her controversial tweets that defended aspects of colonialism’s legacy in March.
In her ruling Linda Venter from the BCCSA explained: “I came to the conclusion that the apology should be repeated and the Registrar informed at least 48 hours before it is broadcast so that the relevant parties may be informed thereof.
“For the re-occurrence of the same negligent error‚ a fine of R10 000 is imposed as sanction‚ which must be paid to the BCCSA within 15 days after receipt of this adjudication.”
The former DA leader had been placed on suspension for bringing the DA into disrepute after also tweeting: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative‚ think of our independent judiciary‚ transport infrastructure‚ piped water.”
In her apology, she said she had realised “the wounds of history that my tweet and subsequent defence of it has opened”.
“In particular, I recognise that my actions were insensitive to South Africans who suffered under colonial oppression. For this, I am genuinely sorry.”
Maimane announced last month that Zille had agreed it would be in the best interests of the DA for her to vacate her positions on all decision-making structures of the party, which included her position on the federal executive, federal council and provincial council.
He also admitted the fallout from Zille’s colonialism tweets had damaged race relations in the country and set the DA back, saying the fallout could have been handled better.