In response to a complaint by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, the BCCSA found last week that the presenter of the SAfm programme “Media at SAfm” should have said something to counter the caller’s reference to “an entirely corrupt Cabinet”.
Nzimande argued that the presenter should have asked the caller to either prove the statement or withdraw it.
The BCCSA said it upheld the complaint because “the omission on the part of the SABC amounted to a contravention of the broadcasting code in that it permitted a defamatory statement to have reached the public without a correction”.
It said the statement was clearly defamatory and the SABC had to take responsibility for the content of its broadcasts.
However, it imposed no sanction, saying there was no indication of malice on the part of the presenter, who was inexperienced and standing in for a colleague.
“We do not regard it necessary to impose a sanction on the SABC for this omission. The omission was bona fide and the judgment should be seen as a guideline for future training.”
The BCCSA dismissed a complaint of hate speech brought against Kyknet for screening the Afrikaans film Jannie Totsiens, which was released in 1970 and contains racial slurs, on the grounds of artistic freedom.
The commission said the content did not meet the test for hate speech and added that even material that did was permissible if it amounted to bona fide artistic expression in a particular dramatic context.
“The movie’s historical setting is much the same as movies such as Schindler’s List, Django Unchained, and 12 Years a Slave, all set in an era of intense unrest and segregation, but portraying the stories and times in a true and legitimate way.
“The goal of these movies was not to open old wounds or to justify the wrongdoings of the time, but to tell factually correct stories set in difficult times.”