BCCSA’s Latest Tribunal’s judgment

Finding against ETV for graphic and gratuitous violence in showing the killing of Gaddafi

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CASE NUMBER: 38/2011
DATE OF HEARING: 15 NOVEMBER 2011
CHIRONGOMA FIRSTCOMPLAINANT
TOWNSEND SECOND COMPLAINANT
BRAND THIRD COMPLAINANT
vs
e.tv RESPONDENT
TRIBUNAL: PROF KOBUS VAN ROOYEN SC (CHAIRPERSON)
MS ZALI MBOMBO
MS MODJADJI NKWANE
DR LINDA VENTER
Ms Chirongoma addressed the Tribunal
FOR THE RESPONDENT: Mr Bop Tshweu and Mr Morapedi Philane, Regulatory
Affairs Executives of e.tv.
_________________________________________________________________________
Violence – Gaddafi –unnecessary scenes in TV news bulletins of the attack on the Colonel found to be
in conflict with Broadcasting Code- omission to advise of violent scenes also held to amount to
contravention.Chirongoma, Townsend & Brand vs e.tv, Case No 38/2011.
___________________________________________________________________________
SUMMARY
The BCCSA received complaints relating to the broadcast on e.tv news and the e News
Channel in October 2011 of scenes showing violent actions that led to the death of
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Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. In certain instances an advisory as to violent scenes was
also not broadcast. The following findings were made and sanctions imposed:
1. The free-to-air broadcast at 19:00 on 23 October contravened clause 3(a) of the
free-to-air Code in that, in spite of the advisory, the material in the second sequence
contravened the said clause. e.tv is ordered to broadcast during the first four minutes
of a 19:00 Sunday evening free-to-air news broadcast, before the end of February
2012, the following statement: “The Broadcasting Complaints Commission has held
that this news service had on Sunday 23 October 2011 contravened the Broadcasting
Code in broadcasting unnecessary detail of the attack on Colonel Gaddafi.”
2. The e.tv subscription newscast at 19:00 on 20 October 2011 contravened
Subscription Code clause 18.1.7 in not adding an advisory before the images were
shown. e.tv is fined R10 000 for the omission to broadcast an advisory.
3.The e.tv subscription newscast at 19:00 on Thursday 20 October also contravened
clause 12 in broadcasting unnecessary scenes of violence in the second sequence of
images. The Respondent is ordered to broadcast the following statement on the 19:00
e News Channel, on a Thursday before the end of February 2012, within the first four
minutes thereof: “The Broadcasting Complaints Commission has held that this news
service had during the seven o’clock Thursday evening news, on 20 October 2011,
contravened the Broadcasting Code in broadcasting unnecessary detail of the attack
on Colonel Gaddafi.”
4. The e.tv subscription newscasts on 22 October at 06:00, 06:30, 07:00, 08:00, 08:30,
09:00, 09:30, 10:00 and 11:00 contravened clause 12 of the Subscription Broadcasting
Code. The Respondent is ordered to broadcast on a Saturday morning before the end
of February 2012 in four of the mentioned broadcasts within the first four minutes
thereof the following statement: “The Broadcasting Complaints Commission has held
that this news service had on Saturday 22 October 2011 contravened the Broadcasting
Code in broadcasting, in nine morning newscasts, unnecessary detail of the attack on
Colonel Gaddafi.”
5. The e.tv subscription broadcasts on 22 October at 09:00, 09:30, 10:00, 10:30 and
11:00 contravened clause 18.1.7 of the Subscription Broadcasting Code for not
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providing an advisory as to the headlines. e-tv is fined R5 000 for each of the five
contraventions (Total: R25000).
JUDGMENT
JCW van Rooyen SC
[1] The Registrar of the BCCSA received two complaints about footage shown during
news programmes on the e News (subscription) channel, as well as one complaint
from a viewer regarding footage on the e.tv free-to-air news channel. The footage
concerned the attack on Colonel Gaddafi, Libyan leader, which had led to his death.
I referred the matter to a Tribunal for a hearing and a decision. It should be pointed
out that the Respondent, at the hearing on 15 November, provided the Commission
with a copy of e News subscription channel footage that was broadcast on 20 October.
That broadcast contained no advisory as to violence. After the Respondent was
requested in December to provide the Commission with argument as to sanction, the
Respondent informed the Registrar that it had erroneously failed to provide the
Commission with the morning news broadcasts of Saturday 22 October, upon which
Ms Chirongoma had based her complaint. The Respondent then pointed out that there
was, indeed, an advisory as to violence in all these broadcasts. However, as will
appear from this judgment, in five instances there was no advisory as to the headlines,
which included footage of the embattled Colonel Gaddafi. This omission on the part
of the Respondent led to the Commission having had to hold an additional meeting on
10 January 2012.
[2] The complaints read as follows:
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Complainant Chirongoma relating to e-News subscription channel 22 October:
“Since the death of Gaddafi was announced there have been images of his head all over
the newspapers and TV, but I was utterly outraged this morning when at 7.30am and every time e.tv
news channel 403 ran its headlines, they showed the moments before Gaddafi's death, where he was
surrounded by lots of men and was clearly being beaten and dragged. The images were shown with
no prior warning to viewers and repeatedly until at least 12 noon. I know they have no control over the
way he died, but how about his right to dignity. Regardless of what he did or did not do, they have no
right to show those images. He is someone's loved one, believe it or not. e.tv's right to freedom of
expression should not trump Gaddafi's right to dignity and privacy. They have stripped him of his
humanity and where is their humanity when they use the death of a man to increase their rating. I saw
my father's eyes, a man pleading for his life and no one and I mean no one would want their father's last
minutes on show for the whole world, entertainment rerun over and over. The anguish!!!
Fines are merely slaps on the wrist for media like e.tv. It means nothing to them. I strongly condemn
e.tv and the manner in which it has treated a fellow human being's final moments and their lack of
respect for his family and those who cared about him.”
Complainant Townsend relating to e.tv (subscription) news channel 20 October
2011 19:00 and repeated: “I register my unhappiness at the display of the clip of the murder of
Gaddafi on ETV news channels and other channels. ETV at no stage when I was watching warned
viewers about the graphic nature of this shot. The fact that he was beaten during the clip and then
shown dead was degrading to all persons. The value judgment of his life is not ours to do. The person
on the clip remains a person. As a person, I would not want my own murder shown to others. Equally
concerning is the display of this clip before watershed time. Please investigate.
My complaint is against showing the clip of Gaddafi being beaten and killed. There is no possible
justification of showing a person being killed on television. This was a failure in discretion. By pushing
this boundary, we have diminished ourselves. A person is a person. This murder of a person remains an
on screen murder. We should not have to decide if we want to watch this or not. It doesn’t enhance the
journalistic value of the story, even if blood leads. It was not necessary and we are all diminished as
humans. This was real life, not some movie or computer game. ETV NEWSCHANNEL can provide
you with exactly what was shown. A second complaint would be that this was shown without any
warnings that the images were graphic. I did not see or hear warnings. Third complaint that it was
shown before 9pm at a time when children could have been watching.”
Complainant Brand relating to e.tv 19:00 23 October 2011 free-to-air: Yesterday,
Sunday 23rd October, I watched the 19h00 e.tv news broadcast. At one point viewers were told, that the
pictures to follow might offend sensitive viewers – and then followed the brutalizing of Gaddafi, his
execution and images of the perpetrators, obviously depicted as the heroes of the moment.
I would like to complain about these pictures for the following reason:
• I expect young people to watch the news and be educated; the reference to “sensitive viewers”
does not carry any age-restriction, and many young people will (have) watched these images.
The “sensitive viewers” warning did in no ways do justice to the images that were to follow.
• The images shown could have been taken from some brutal movie, that would as such in all
probability have carried an 18-years age-restriction for violence. As they were in the news and
as they were real, they were even more powerful and gruesome than if it had been “only” a
movie.
• Our constitution has outlawed capital punishment – as such any visuals depicting any form of
execution should be banned from public viewing. In the case referred to it would have been
easy for an uncritical viewer to accept that this public execution was legal and government
sanctioned.
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• The morality of showing visuals of this kind needs to be questioned on more levels, than those
mentioned above: I know about the atrocities that Gaddafi perpetrated or instigated – and I
deplore them; and still he remains to be a human being, whose dignity has been violated when
he was treated less than an animal. I question the morality of visuals that insipidly and
indirectly justify gross violence and vigilantism. To me the message portrayed as news was: If
it is a Gaddafi (or anyone whom I perceive to be as evil as he was) the public has the right and
good cause to execute such a person. This message will resonate well with many criminals in
our country, who attach little value to human life. And lastly, I find no justification for
depicting the perpetrators of this execution as heroes, who liberated the world from an evil
person; quite rightly our president said, that after Gaddafi was captured, he should have been
brought before a court of law.
[3] Further comment from Complainant Brand read as follows:
I have read the broadcaster’s response; it has tried to reduce my complaint to one issue only. E.tv has a
responsibility to the broader public in terms of what it shows – it cannot compare itself to whatever
people willingly download from the internet. It also has a responsibility towards the younger generation
– a short reference that “visuals MIGHT upset sensitive viewers” does not do justice to this
responsibility.
[4] The Respondent replied as follows:
Complaints re: Gaddafi murder clip”
This letter is in response to complaints about a clip on Gaddafi’s murder. The Complainants allege
Gaddafi’s dignity was violated by the clip of his murder.
Flighting the images of dead bodies or wounded during the war is always a difficult editorial decision.
Where necessary viewers are usually warned about offensive visuals. Our role as journalists is to show
the true images of what happens in any situation. To sanitise the truth is to fail in our duty to inform the
public. Enews refrained from using any possible graphic images of the events surrounding his capture.
We believe putting the blame on us is unfair as even more gruesome pictures were already in public
domain. The images of his capture and murder taken on mobile phones were already circulating
around the world, contradicting statements issued by the National Transitional Council to the world
media. Putting the blame on us is unfair as these images were not broadcast gratuitously but to put
matters to proper scrutiny.
e.tv does not believe that the depiction of capture and injuries sustained in a war situation can be
banned; it can only be treated in the most dignified way possible under the circumstances. We believe
that this was done in a broadcast, given the fact that no close up of gun shots wounds or actual beatings
took place. We submit that a warning was issued prior to the broadcast of the footage. In the result,
there was no contravention of the broadcasting code. Our role as journalists is to show the true images
of what happens in any situation. To sanitise the truth is to fail in our duty to inform the public. E-news
refrained from using any possible graphic images of the events surrounding his capture.”
The Brand complaint: 23 October 19:00 e-news (free-to-air)
[5] The BCCSA Code for free-to-air broadcasters provides as follows in connection with
the broadcasting of scenes of violence:
3. Violence
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Broadcasting service licensees must not broadcast material which, judged within context
(a) contains violence which does not play an integral role in developing the plot, character or
theme of the material as a whole; or
(b) sanctions, promotes or glamorises violence or unlawful conduct. (emphasis added)
4. (1) Broadcasting service licensees must not broadcast material which, judged
within context, sanctions, promotes or glamorises violence or unlawful conduct based
on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or
mental or physical disability. (emphasis added)
5. Exclusions
Clauses 3 and 4 do not apply to:
(1) a broadcast which, judged within context, amounts to a bona fide scientific,
documentary, dramatic, artistic or religious broadcast;
(2) a broadcast which amounts to a discussion, argument or opinion on a matter
pertaining to religion, belief or conscience; or
(3) a broadcast which amounts to a bona fide discussion, argument or opinion on
a matter of public interest.
Clause 11(8), which deals with news, provides as follows:
Broadcasting service licensees must advise viewers in advance of scenes or reporting of
extraordinary violence, or graphic reporting on delicate subject-matter such as sexual assault
or court action related to sexual crimes, particularly during afternoon or early evening
newscasts and updates. (emphasis added)
[6] It should be mentioned that, throughout this matter, the Tribunal bore in mind the fact
that any finding of a contravention would limit the right to freedom of expression, and
that freedom of expression should be granted a generous application.1 Moreover, the
Tribunal was acutely aware of the possibility that the right of the public to be
informed might be limited unreasonably if a finding were to be made against e.tv. On
the other hand, all rights are limited within the sphere of section 36 of the Constitution
of the RSA and, of course, by the Broadcasting Code, which the Respondent has
agreed to by accepting the BCCSA jurisdiction as a member of the National
Association of Broadcasters. We are satisfied that the Respondent was given ample
opportunity to address the main issues in all the broadcasts complained of, both in its
response and at the hearing of the matter, i.e. the content of the scenes as such, as well
as the matter of the broadcast of an advisory. The main defence in the case of the
content is that the material was already in the public domain, and that the Respondent
had the right to keep its viewers informed as to what was described as “war scenes”.
1 See the references to the relevant authorities in National Commissioner and Another v e.tv, Case No 05/2010
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The italicised parts of the following paragraphs also emphasise other aspects of the
defence.
”Our role as journalists is to show the true images of what happens in any situation. To sanitise the
truth is to fail in our duty to inform the public. E-news refrained from using any possible graphic
images of the events surrounding his capture.”
“Putting the blame on us is unfair as these images were not broadcast gratuitously but to put matters
to proper scrutiny.e.tv does not believe that the depiction of capture and injuries sustained in a war
situation can be banned; it can only be treated in the most dignified way possible under the
circumstances. We believe that this was done in [the] broadcast[s], given the fact that no close up of
gun shots wounds or actual beatings took place. We submit that a warning was issued prior to the
broadcast of the footage. In the result, there was no contravention of the Broadcasting Code
[7] It is common cause that e.tv did indeed advise viewers, on its free-to-air channel on
23 October, that some scenes in the news programme might be disturbing to sensitive
viewers. The question is, however, whether this warning is a defence against the
repeated screening of images of the bloodied face of an apparently severely injured
Colonel Gaddafi, during what may be described as the attack that ultimately led to his
being shot dead. If material is prohibited by the Code, an advisory per se would not be
a defence. The approach of the Respondent, which seems to amount to its having
carte blanche in regard to “war scenes”, is unfounded in law. All rights – including
Constitutional rights – are limited, and have to be balanced against other rights. It
should further be borne in mind that the present complaint is limited to the broadcast
on the evening of 23 October 2011, and that the first broadcast on the free-to-air
channel took place on the evening of 20 October – i.e. the day on which it was first
announced on the e News channel that Colonel Gaddafi had been killed. The
broadcast on 23 October, however, differs from the broadcast on 20 October in that it
was stated that new mobile images on the killing had come to light. The 20 October
broadcast on the free-to-air channel was, however, not complained about. A complaint
was, however, lodged in regard to the 19:00 e News subscription channel broadcast.
[8] Clause 3(a) of the free-to-air Code prohibits the broadcast of material containing
scenes of violence where such scenes do not play an integral role in developing the
plot, character or theme of the material as a whole. The previous Code used the word
“gratuitous”,2 but this was replaced with “integral” in the new Code. “Integral”,
according to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, means, inter alia “necessary for
2 Cf Monitoring and Complaints Unit (MCU of ICASA) & Others v SABC 2 (Case 39/2004).
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the completeness of the whole”. The other meanings provided are basically the same.3
The material in question formed part of a news programme. The scenes in the
broadcast complained of were said to contain new mobile phone film material which
had become available subsequent to the news of Colonel Gaddafi’s death being
broadcast on the previous three days.4 Although it is true that the shots shown on 23
October amounted to new material for e.tv news (free-to-air), the question that arises
is whether the material served any purpose in informing the public. Of course, there is
nothing wrong in broadcasting additional related (even meaningless) material, but
combined with violence, the Code could be contravened. We will accept in favour of
e.tv, without deciding the point, that it was permissible to show one shot of the newly
available material. However, the repeated screening of shots of the bloodied face and,
at times, bloodied face and torso of Colonel Gaddafi, combined with the sounds of
screaming and the obvious attack being made on him, cannot be regarded as being
integral to the news item. The repeated screening of the obviously violent struggle,
and repeated screening of images of the obviously wounded and bloodied face and
torso of Colonel Gaddafi, is unnecessary in supporting the main news item, namely,
that Colonel Gaddafi had been attacked and killed by revolutionary forces apparently
loyal to the National Transitional Council. Of course, it was news that further material
had come to light regarding the attack, struggle and eventual killing of the Colonel,
but it would have been sufficient5 to show only one new shot of his bloodied face and
torso and then to cut to jubilant scenes of his attackers and their praising of the alleged
killer. The bounds of necessity (as implied by the word “integral”) were grossly
overstepped in the broadcast. The commentary accompanying the graphic images did
nothing to project the images in such a way that the images might be perceived as
amounting to material which would bring viewers closer to the truth.
[9] In argument on behalf of e.tv, it was claimed that e.tv has a duty to inform the public
of what happened, and that the photographic material was already in the public
3 “Gratuitous” would not seem to have a meaning that is that different from integral (“done, made, adopted, or
assumed without any good ground or reason; uncalled for; unjustifiable”).
4 See the material discussed hereunder in regard to the subscription broadcast the previous day.
5 Subject to what was said earlier: “We will accept in favour of e.tv, without deciding the point, that it was
acceptable to show one shot of the newly available material.”
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domain. In our view, news does not necessarily require or depend on repetition, unless
the repetition is necessary for a better understanding of the news. “News”, according
to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, means “newly received or noteworthy
information, especially about recent events”. In the e.tv news programme, the “newly
received” aspect of the news item was lost in the very repetition thereof. There was,
indeed, no need to repeat graphic images of the embattled Colonel Gaddafi’s bloodied
face and torso as part of the news item on the rebel attack. And while the images of
the attack were not necessarily clear and detailed in all instances, they however
formed part of the struggle that had obviously led up to graphic scenes of the
wounded Libyan leader as these were repeatedly shown in the news report. The fact
that the Colonel was accused as having been a tyrant who had also readily had his
opponents killed in various ways, does not justify the broadcast of the brutal and
barbarous attack on him.
[10] Furthermore, the “public interest” defence6 would not, in our view, save the footage.
While it may have been “interesting” to certain sectors of the public7 to view repeated
shots of the bloodied face and torso of Colonel Gaddafi, the repeated screening of
these shots served no purpose in the public interest by, for example, safeguarding or
promoting the general welfare or common well-being of South African viewers; the
repeated screening of the images did not add to the information conveyed by the news
6 See clause 5(3) of the Code.
7 See Financial Mail (Pty) Ltd and Others v Sage Holdings Ltd and Another 1993 (2) SA 451 (A) Corbett CJ
said in delivering the majority judgment (at 464C-D): “(1) There is a wide difference between what is
interesting to the public and what it is in the public interest to make known . . .(2) The media have a private
interest of their own in publishing what appeals to the public and may increase their circulation or the numbers
of their viewers or listeners; and they are peculiarly vulnerable to the error of confusing the public interest with
their own interest...” Quoted with approval by Hoexter JA in Neethling v Du Preez; Neethling v The Weekly
Mail 1994 (1) SA 708 (A) at 779 and Hefer JA in National Media Ltd v Bogoshi & Others 1998(4) SA
1196(SCA) at 1212 where reference is made to Asser Handleiding tot de Beoefening van het Needelands
Burgerlijk Recht (9th Ed vol III at 224 para 238: “Een belangrijke grond ter rechtvaardiging van de uitlatingen,
waarop in zaken van aantasting van eer en goede naam veelvuldig een beroep wordt gedaan, is het algemeen
belang. . . . In de praktijk wordt zij vooral ingeroepen ter zake van uitlatingen die via de pers en radio en
televisie worden verspreid: het algemeen belang is hier uiteraard gelegen in de, door Grondwet en verdragen
gewaarborgde, vrijheid van meningsuiting die de pers in staat stelt al dan niet vermeende misstanden aan de
kaak te stellen. Met name - doch niet alléén - in deze gevallen berust het oordeel omtrent de onrechtmatigheid
op een afweging van belangen, waarvan de uitkomst afhankelijk is van alle omstandigheden van het
geval.”(italics added)
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item, but instead fed off and fed into what may be called a sensational interest in the
event. In this regard, reference may be made to the European Court of Human Rights
judgment in Jersild v Denmark.8 In this matter, it was held that the conviction of
Danish television journalist Jens Olaf Jersild by a Danish Court was in conflict with
the European Convention of Human Rights. Jersild had produced a two-minute news
item that was condensed from a longer interview with a group of people (calling
themselves “the Greenjackets”) who had expressed racist views about immigrants.
The interviewees had, in the broadcast, used racially derogatory language with regard
to immigrants from Africa, and had boasted about their criminal activities directed at
such groups. The European Court stated the following:
“The Court reiterates that freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a
democratic society and that the safeguards to be afforded to the press are of particular importance …
Whilst the press must not overstep the bounds set, inter alia, in the interest of "the protection of the
reputation or rights of others", it is nevertheless incumbent on it to impart information and ideas of
public interest. Not only does the press have the task of imparting such information and ideas: the
public also has a right to receive them. Were it otherwise, the press would be unable to play its vital
role of "public watchdog" … Although formulated primarily with regard to the print media, these
principles doubtless apply also to the audiovisual media.”
In the e.tv case, the repeated screening of shots of the bloodied face, or face and torso,
of Colonel Gaddafi did not “impart (necessary) information and ideas of public
interest” in terms of the Jersild judgment. We have also not been persuaded as to why
the public has a right to see such images – even if they are new. The “public
watchdog” duty of the media has no relevance in the present context.9 It is irrelevant
that the images were already in the public domain. While images might indeed be in
the public domain, this does not mean that the protection of the rights of television
viewers are thereby lost.
The complaint concerning the e.tv news (19:00) free-to-air broadcast on the evening
of 23 October is, accordingly, upheld.
[11] In the light of the conclusion that was reached, it is unnecessary to deal with the
argument that the scenes of extralegal killing promoted violence, or at least the notion
of taking the law into one’s own hands in similar circumstances.
8 Application 15890/89, decided 23 September 1994.
9 See the italicised words in the passage quoted from Asser in the previous footnote.
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Subscription Broadcast News on 20 and 22 October (“Chirongoma
complaint” and “Townsend complaint”)
[12] The first two complaints deal with e News as broadcast on the subscription channel.
The 19:00 broadcast on 20 October, contained no advisory. Mr. Townsend’s
complaint deals with the broadcast of 20 October. Ms Chirongoma’s complaint deals
with the 22 October news broadcasts between 06:00 to 11:00. The latter indeed
contained a warning in the body of the news in each of the broadcasts. Ms
Chirongoma, however, also specifically refers to the headlines. We have viewed
copies of all the newscasts from 06:00 to 11:00 of the morning of 22 October that
were made available to us. Five of the newscasts (at 09:00, 09:30, 10:00 10:30 and
11:00) were introduced by headline footage showing the struggle with Colonel
Gaddafi. As to the headlines, there was no prior advisory for sensitive viewers. Those
watching the introduction to the news were simply, and without warning, exposed to
mobile phone footage that had been distributed soon after the death of Colonel
Gaddafi. Here, again, images of the bloodied face and torso of Colonel Gaddafi were
shown.
[13] The Code for Subscription Broadcasters provides as follows:
12. A television or composite subscription broadcasting service licensee, wherever
practicable, must avoid broadcasting programming material, including promotional
material, which is unsuitable for children and/or contains nudity, explicit sexual conduct,
violence or offensive language before the watershed period.
28.1.7 Licensees must advise (news) viewers in advance of scenes or reporting of
extraordinary violence, or graphic reporting on delicate subject-matter such as sexual
assault or court action related to sexual crimes, particularly during afternoon or early
evening newscasts and updates when children would probably be in the audience.
(emphasis added)
We have no doubt that the headline material shown in five broadcasts on the e News
subscription channel on Saturday morning 22 October required the kind of advisory
referred to in clause 28.1.7. No such advisory was given at the time, however.
Although clause 28.1.7 states “particularly during afternoon or early evening
broadcasts and updates when children would probably be in the audience”, this rule
does not exonerate a subscription broadcaster from advising viewers wherever
necessary, at whatever time of the day or night, regarding scenes of extraordinary
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violence. We have no doubt that the bloody shots of Colonel Gaddafi in the headline,
combined with the blurred but obviously violent scenes that appeared to show the
actions of the attackers, required such an advisory. Clearly, the violence amounted to
extraordinary violence: the scenes were not fictional, but formed part of a real-life,
violent attack on a human being, which explicitly showed the bloody effects of the
attack. It is true that the headline only lasted a few seconds, but there is no
justification for suddenly, “out of the blue” as it were, confronting viewers with this
introductory headline. The headline in all five broadcasts was the same or
substantially the same. In each instance, no advisory was given.
[14] In so far as the Townsend complaint is concerned, relating to the e News Channel
broadcast on 20 October 2011, no advisory was included in the 19:00 subscription
channel newscast, as provided to us by the Respondent. The scenes shown during the
newscast required an advisory. What was said about the extraordinary nature of the
material broadcast, also applies here.
[15] In so far as clause 12 of the Subscription Code is concerned, we are prepared to accept
for purposes of this judgment, which deals with news, that the word “integral” should
be read into clause 12, otherwise different standards would apply to subscription news
and free-to-air news. What was said above in that regard also applies here. The
scenes on both 20 and 22 October were shown before the subscription watershed at
20:00. We have no doubt that the repeated screening of the blurred but obviously
violent scenes, which also repeatedly and clearly showed the bloody effects of
violence on the victim, were in contravention of clause 12. It is clear that the
involvement of children is not the only test (“and/or” creating a category on its own).
The words “in so far as is practicable” do not assist the broadcaster, since the final
version of the news is determined in South Africa, and the repeated scenes of the
bloodied face and torso of the Colonel should have been left out in the light of the
requirements of the Code. In so far as the public interest defence is concerned – which
we accept, in favour of the Respondent, is also applicable in the case of a subscription
channel – the same conclusions are reached as were reached above in regard to the
broadcast on the free-to-air channel. Watching a person being killed in real life serves
no purpose that might be elevated to revealing, for example, misconduct that might in
some way serve the public interest in South Africa. To sum up: the first scene of the
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attack (as shown in the body of the newscast on 22 October) is accepted, in favour of
the Respondent, as not having been in contravention of the Code. It could be argued
that it countered the claims that Gaddafi had been killed in a shoot-out. The second
scene (where Gaddafi is shown to wipe his bloodied face) has no function which
might be supported by any of the defences referred to above. The latter conclusion
also applies to the five cases where the headline included scenes of the attack. The
commentary, which saved the first scene, was not present here. As to the Townsend
complaint concerning the 19:00 news on 20 October, we found hardly any dialogue at
all that was directly supported by the footage. However, we will accept in favour of
the broadcaster that one shot of the bloodied face, or bloodied face and torso, of
Colonel Gaddafi would have been in order. It was unnecessary to show repeated shots
of this material, however, and so this screening falls into the same category as the
further shots referred to in the Chirongama complaint. Also, as is the case in the
Chirongama matter, the defences do not apply here either.
Sanction
[16] E.tv and the complainants were requested to provide the Tribunal with written
argument as to an appropriate sanction. Clause 14 of the Constitution of the BCCSA
sets out the following possible sanctions:
“reprimand any respondent adjudged to have been guilty of an infringement of the Code;
direct that a correction and/or a summary of the findings of the Adjudication Committee be
broadcast by the respondent in such manner as may be determined by the Committee;
direct that a respondent grant reasonable access in its broadcasts on an equal opportunity
basis to a political party, organisation or movement or candidate in a case where clause 37 of
the Code was not complied with; the same rule shall mutatis mutandis apply in the case of
clause 36 impose a fine not exceeding R50,000 upon any respondent adjudged to have infringed the
Code, whereupon the fine so imposed shall be a debt due to the BCCSA and recoverable as
such;
in its reasons for its findings, record criticism of the conduct of the complainant in relation to
the complaint, where such criticism is in its view warranted;
make any supplementary or ancillary orders or directions that it may consider necessary for
carrying into effect orders of directives made in terms of this clause and, more particularly,
give directions as to the broadcasting of its findings”
[17] E.tv responded as follows as to sanction:
1. We took a conscious decision to provide warnings for the news broadcasts surrounding the
killing of Muammar Gaddafi. e.tv was unaware that such warnings were required for
headlines and this is without precedent as set out below.
14
2. We were under the bona fide belief that warnings would be adequate for the broadcast of the
impugned visuals. This belief is based on past practice and precedent.
3. Providing warnings in the headlines is difficult as headlines are usually just one-liners. The
standard practice has been to provide warnings for news items in the bulletin. As far as we
are aware, providing warnings in headlines is without precedent in BCCSA decisions. In the
circumstances, we can only learn from this experience going forward.
4. In instances where warnings were not given, it was an anchor error as warnings were scripted
for all bulletins. For this e.tv wishes to apologise.
In the result, we submit that a reprimand is an appropriate sanction.
[18] The Complainants’ submission ranged from ordering a fine which should be donated
to a fund to an order that e-tv broadcast the rules in regard to advisories and related
rules during the news several times. Both these approached are not supported by the
Rules, which set out specific sanctions, including a fine and a broadcast announcing
the decision of the BCCSA.
[19] It is true that the BCCSA has never before dealt with headlines to news in any of its
judgments. There is indeed no precedent in the findings of the BCCSA. That there has
been no precedent is, of course, no reason for not abiding by the rule in clause
18.1.7.It is patently clear that headlines form part of the news and that clause 18.1.7 is
applicable. Even if the material did not form part of the news and had been regarded
as promotional material, its broadcast would have been prohibited in terms of clause
12. Probably the reference to the absence of precedent should be understood to mean
that there had not been, what may be termed, “malice aforethought” in omitting to
include an advisory. The argument that it is difficult to provide warnings in headlines
is self-destructive: why not, if it is difficult, not include it? The headline, which was
identical (or at least essentially identical) in all four cases, consisted of mobile phone
(video) footage with accompanying sounds. It was thrust upon viewers without any
warning. A conscious decision must have been taken to use the material as an
introduction to the body of the news which was to follow. This conclusion is
supported by the fact that the preceding five newscasts from 06:00 did not include this
headline. Even if we accept, without deciding, that the Respondent did not act with
“malice aforethought”, it was negligent. The negligence, to our minds, amounted to
gross negligence. To simply include the terribly harsh scenes, albeit only for a few
seconds, was ill-considered in the extreme. A mere reprimand would not suffice. A
fine of R5 000 for each of the five contraventions is imposed. In so far as the body of
the news is concerned, the advisory is regarded as extenuating. The Respondent must
broadcast the decision of the BCCSA in broadcasts on a Saturday, as indicated in the
order.
15
[20] In so far as the contraventions in clause 12 as to the body of the news on the
subscription news channel at 19:00 on 20 October is concerned, the Respondent was
grossly negligent in not having broadcast any advisory and also for broadcasting
unnecessary images of the attack. An announcement of the decision of the BCCSA is
appropriate in so far as the unnecessary images are concerned. The omission to
broadcast an advisory is regarded as ill-considered and grossly negligent. A fine of
R10 000 for not having included an advisory will be ordered. This fine is more than
the fine which was imposed in regard to the headlines, since much more violence was
shown in the body of the news than in the headlines.
Where two contraventions were found in one newscast they were regarded as
sufficiently separate to justify two findings and two sanctions.
[21] The following findings are made and sanctions are imposed:
1. The free-to-air broadcast at 19:00 on 23 October contravened clause 3(a) of the
free-to-air Code in that, in spite of the advisory, the material in the second sequence
contravened the said clause. e.tv is ordered to broadcast during the first four minutes
of a 19:00 Sunday evening free-to-air news broadcast, before the end of February
2012, the following statement: “The Broadcasting Complaints Commission has held
that this news service had on Sunday 23 October 2011 contravened the Broadcasting
Code in broadcasting unnecessary detail of the attack on Colonel Gaddafi.”
2. The e.tv subscription newscast at 19:00 on 20 October 2011 contravened
Subscription Code clause 18.1.7 in not adding an advisory before the images were
shown. e.tv is fined R10 000 for the omission to broadcast an advisory.
3.The e.tv subscription newscast at 19:00 on Thursday 20 October also contravened
clause 12 in broadcasting unnecessary scenes of violence in the second sequence of
images. The Respondent is ordered to broadcast the following statement on the 19:00
e News Channel on a Thursday before the end of February 2012 within the first four
minutes thereof: “The Broadcasting Complaints Commission has held that this news
service had during the seven o’clock Thursday evening news, on 20 October 2011,
contravened the Broadcasting Code in broadcasting unnecessary detail of the attack
on Colonel Gaddafi.”
4. The e.tv subscription newscasts on 22 October at 06:00, 06:30, 07:00, 08:00, 08:30,
09:00, 09:30, 10:00 and 11:00 contravened clause 12 of the Subscription Broadcasting
Code. The Respondent is ordered to broadcast on a Saturday morning before the end
16
of February 2012 in four of the mentioned broadcasts within the first four minutes
thereof the following statement: “The Broadcasting Complaints Commission has held
that this news service had on Saturday 22 October 2011 contravened the Broadcasting
Code in broadcasting, in nine morning newscasts, unnecessary detail of the attack on
Colonel Gaddafi.”
5. The e.tv subscription broadcasts on 22 October at 09:00, 09:30, 10:00, 10:30 and
11:00 contravened clause 18.1.7 of the Subscription Broadcasting Code for not
providing an advisory as to the headlines. e-tv is fined R5 000 for each of the five
contraventions (Total: R25000).
The fines (total R35000) must be paid to the BCCSA on or before 28 February 2012.
JCW VAN ROOYEN SC 2 February 2012
CHAIRPERSON
Commissioners Mbombo, Nkwane and Venter concurred with the judgment of the
Chairperson

					

“Why are white people so frightened of black people?” article

This article first appeared in The Mercury on Monday 12 December

“Why are white people so frightened of black people?”
Given the fact that I was sweating profusely, grimacing with agony and clutching a lamppost on a street corner outside the gym, the question took me somewhat by surprise.
It came from a young black man who was sitting on a municipal dustbin not far from my lamppost. We had greeted one another as I began performing my post-gym stretching session whilst waiting for my wife to pick me up. He had quizzed me about the very odd poses I was striking and informed me that swimming in the sea was good for my legs. Solid advice. He had then returned to listening to his MP3 player and I continued with my torture session.
The question cut the thick Durban air like a knife: “Why are white people so frightened of black people?” I looked up and noticed that the affable and relaxed young face that had greeted me minutes earlier was now furrowed and pensive.
I stopped what I was doing and took a few steps towards the 20 something year old. It was an awkward moment: “Do you think all white people are frightened of black people?” I asked resorting to the old delaying tactic of answering a question with a question.
“Well, I walk along the road and salute white people and they check me out as if to say ‘what do you want with me?’ I am just greeting them but they step away from me without saying hello. Maybe they think I am a criminal? But not all black people are criminals.”
I advocate a policy of peace creation that involves each of us affording one another respect and dignity regardless of our race group, age or gender. This conversation was showing me how far we still have to go.
“We are all human beings,” the young man continued very pointedly and eloquently, “sometimes we don’t treat each other like human beings though; we treat each other like animals. But this is not how our country should be these days.”
This conversation was cutting uncomfortably close to the bone – even for me. But I hoped like hell that my wife would, just for once, be late.
You see these are the conversations that give me hope for our nation. They provide the little moments of hard truth that ensure that the dream of a Rainbow Nation remains in the process of becoming a reality. We may have moved on too quickly from the ideal of a Rainbow Nation. Sadly, the concept seems to have been tossed into a bin labeled ‘clichéd and hackneyed’. Maybe some of us even think that it is a vision that has been realized and is now complete. This trendy twenty-something year old youngster dispelled that notion. It would appear that much healing still needs to take place.
“It is true that a lot of crime is committed by young black guys,” I said. “Maybe this is why some whiteys are frightened of you – because you are a young black guy.”
“It’s not just whites, Indians also don’t greet us,” he said with a wry smile.
Now I was aware that my new black friend was as guilty of generalizing as the whites and Indians he was accusing of all being fearful and distrusting of blacks.
But isn’t that just the problem? Are we not still caught in that paradigm of all blacks are X, all Indians are Y and all whites are Z?
(Incidentally, it is true that most crime in South Africa is committed by young black males. But then again, most crime in Russia is committed by young Russian males. Crime is an issue of youth and gender rather than an issue of skin colour.)
As we approach this year’s Day of Reconciliation, let us challenge ourselves by asking: Do we still judge people within stereotypical paradigms handed to us by the past, or do we treat them as individuals? Are we able to view the man or the woman behind the colour of their skin or the name of their tribe, or do we lump people together into homogenous groups, writing them off for being different to us? Do we greet people of other races, or do we cross on the other side of the road?
We had come a long way in the few minutes we had been talking. I had met yet another young black man who wasn’t a criminal. He had met a youngish white man who didn’t avoid him when he tried to converse. In some small way, we were reconciled.
He smiled and waved as we parted company.
“Keep greeting people,” I said before hopping into the car.
I think he just might.
For more on how to get involved go to
www.sayhello.co.za

To subscribe to this newsletter go to
www.sayhello.co.za/newsletter.html

Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM/AGS) press release

AFM Calls on Government To Act Decisively Against Violence Against Women & Children!
Government must give teeth to the fight against women & child abuse.

The Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) of South Africa calls on government, civil society and Churches to join forces to prevent the ’16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women & Children’ Campaign from becoming another meaningless annual event on the nation’s calendar.

South Africa is regarded as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women and children to live. The latest crime statistics reveal almost 55 000 women are raped annually in South Africa and that thousands more suffer various forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Children do not fare any better. More than 25 000 children are raped or sexually abused in South Africa every year. While these stats may only be the the tip of the iceberg,the persistently high figures prove that government has not done enough to combat the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable women and children in South Africa.

Every year the ’16 Days of Activism Campaign’ is launched with much fanfare by various government departments but with very little results. Media statements and rousing speeches themselves will do nothing to reverse the current trend of rape, sexual exploitation and abuse of women and children.

The media reports that Mavericks strip club is importing Eastern European women into South Africa under questionable circumstances. Many do not possess the legal documentation to work in this country.

The AFM is shocked and appalled that a strip club is using permits intended for Christian missionary work to traffick women into South Africa as “exotic dancers.” and eventual sexual enslavement.

Just two weeks prior to the launch of the ’16 Days of Activism Campaign’ Mavericks strip club has reportedly illegally erected giant billboards in Cape Town that sexually degrade women and promotes adultery. Thousands of children are exposed to these sexually explicit images every day.

Despite the harm these billboards cause women and children and its illegal status, the city authorities have refused to immediately remove them making a mockery of the stated objectives of the ’16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women & Children’ Campaign.

The AFM calls on government to revoke the licenses of Mavericks and other strip clubs found guilty of illegally importing women into the country and under false claims of employment.

The AFM also urges the national, provincial and municipal authorities to urgently implement regulations that prohibit the public display of advertising images that portrays women in a lewd and obscene manner or that sexually demean and objectify women for commercial purposes.

The Film & Publications Act make it a criminal offense to expose children to pornographic images. The AFM calls on the authorities to urgently act against offenders without compromise.

Government must give teeth to the ’16 Days of Activism Campaign’ or risk relegating the initiative to a platform for political opportunism, empty promises and pious platitudes – while women and children are violated and abused daily in South Africa.
While the AFM does not expect government to do the Church’s work, it has the divine responsibility to create a social environment where everyone – especially the weak and the vulnerable – will be safe.
The AFM therefore calls on government to launch the 2011 ’16 Days of Activism Campaign’ with credibility by implementing initiatives that will effectively promote the safety and dignity of women and children in society.

ENDS
For more information
contact:

Dr. Isak Burger
President:
Apostolic Faith Mission
afmgs@mweb.co.za
Cell: 0832298906

“extraordinary” Climate Change Concert & Rally

Tutu urges us to attend “extraordinary” Climate Change Concert & Rally
Kings Park Rugby Stadium: 2pm, Sun 27 Nov 2011
Gates open at noon – family entertainment from 1pm – concert starts at 2pm

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has urged South Africans to join world faith leaders, political leaders and music stars at an “extraordinary” mass rally and afternoon concert on November 27 at the King’s Park Stadium in Durban.

The Archbishop is to host the “We Have Faith – Act Now for Climate Justice” rally and concert, at which he will lead a call to world leaders attending the COP17 climate change talks in Durban that they should reach a fair and legally binding agreement to curb climate change.

Musicians including Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Arno Carstens, rap star HHP and Kenyan Gospel rapper Juliani have confirmed they will perform at the rally, which will be free. The COP17 talks start in Durban the day after the rally.

Faith leaders including Pope Benedict XVI, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, have also been invited. Those who cannot attend have been asked to send video clips of support.

Environmental campaigners and motivational speakers Lewis Pugh, the “human polar bear”, and Braam Malherbe, a 50/50 presenter, will be among the many who will address the crowd.
“Apartheid seemed an overwhelming challenge that could not be defeated but we mobilised and defeated it. We need the same passion and determination to defeat climate change,” says Tutu.

“Climate change is an even greater threat to us than apartheid was, because as temperatures rise, millions of Africans will be deprived of water and crops. This will cause enormous suffering. It is something we simply cannot allow.

“In the face of such a huge threat, many of us feel numb and throw up our hands, believing we can’t make a difference. But we can make a difference – come to the rally. It will be an extraordinary event. And if you cannot come, please sign our petition on www.wehavefaithactnow.org. We want to have over one million signatures on these petitions at the rally to hand over the world leaders.

“Along with the many other faith leaders in the campaign, I appeal to you all – don’t hesitate to join us. Your support could help make a world of difference in keeping our planet cool.”
At the rally, Archbishop Tutu will hand over the petition to COP17 Chair, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who has confirmed she will attend to receive it.

UNFCCC executive secretary Christina Figueres has confirmed she will attend the rally, and President Jacob Zuma is among the many key politicians who have been invited.
The “We Have Faith” petition calls on world leaders to commit to a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement, for a renewal of the Kyoto Protocol, and for funding to help Africa adapt to climate change.

Learners from dozens of schools throughout KwaZulu-Natal will also participate in the rally, presenting environmental-themed posters and messages to the leaders and performing song-and-dance numbers.

The faith leaders participating in the campaign are reiterating scientists’ predictions that that if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed, by the end of the century average world temperatures will rise between 2˚C and 4˚C, and up to 6˚C in parts of Africa.

Climate change is already causing unpredictable, extreme weather across the world, they say. Large numbers of people, especially in Africa, are struggling to survive amid increasingly severe droughts, floods and other disasters. Although Africans have done very little to cause climate change, they will be among the most devastated. A new climate change treaty is crucial to prevent enormous suffering and loss of life.

South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan, Archbishop Tutu, activist Ela Gandhi, satirist Pieter–Dirk Uys, Free State University’s Prof Jonathan Jansen and author John van de Ruit are the latest public figures to sign the “We Have Faith” petition, which has also been signed by thousands of people across Africa.

The “We Have Faith” campaign has several other key elements, which include a youth caravan travelling from Nairobi to the rally, and a day of prayer on December 4 for a just outcome to the talks.

The rally starts at 2pm. Doors open at noon, and there will be local entertainment until 2pm. Tickets will be available from November 11 at The Shark Tank Shop, the Diakonia Council of Churches and various other organisations ahead of time.

Tickets can also be collected on the day at the stadium ticket office.

Hundreds of youth activists and artists from many African countries, including South Africa, will travel from Nairobi to Durban in the caravan (a convoy of “We Have Faith”-branded buses). Along the way, they will stage youth-led climate concerts in cities including Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam, Lusaka, Gaborone, Lilongwe and Johannesburg (Soweto).

For more information, log on to www.wehavefaithactnow.org, follow the campaign on Facebook (“We Have Faith – Act Now” community) and Twitter (“COP17ActNow”). Watch the YouTube video of Archbishop Tutu’s call to people to sign the petition, on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEcOT34ORXE&feature=feedu

2011 Annual Forum

The IFRB held its Annual Forum and Business meeting on 5 October 2011 at the Ulwazi Centre. Our speaker was Brendan Seery of the Saturday Star, whose topic was “Orchids and Onion: Morals and Ethics in the Media.” He gave us a fascinating account of how ethics and media interact, using anecdotes and examples from his career in journalism. The speech was thought provoking; the panel discussion afterwards was far too short, particularly as our panellists were all authorities on media and ethics in their own right. The panellists were: Mr Ismail Variava, Mr Joe Thloloe, Ms Jenny Charton,, and Ms Zama Mkosi. We hope in future to be able to allow more time for audience participation and discussion in the forum itself; although some discussion was enjoyed during the finger lunch served after the forum.

IFRB Breakfast Meeting 23 March 2011

 In the interest of developing quality religious communication in Southern Africa the IFRB met with religious leaders & Media representatives.

The combined strength of these communities has proven to be a formidable force in promoting reconciliation and transformation in the country. This occasion presented an ideal opportunity to network with like-minded people as well as to be informed about the work of the IFRB

SA elected President of the International UCIP

Media Release
Immediate
Pretoria
Monday, 11 June 2007

South African elected President of the International Union of the Catholic Press (UCIP)>

Else Strivens, veteran South African journalist, Magazine publisher, Media researcher and trainer has been elected president of the International Union of the Catholic Press (UCIP) at the Union’s General Assembly in Sherbrooke, Canada.

UCIP celebrates 80 years of support and networking among catholic journalists and media workers. The Union aims to provide opportunities for interaction and education between the world’s catholic media practitioners and media houses. This year’s congress and General assembly has been attended by representatives from countries around the world from Nepal to the Caribbean. (see www.ucip.ch)
Paying tribute to the outgoing President Ismar Soares from Brazil, Mrs Strivens hoped that her term as president would be as successful as that of Prof. Soares, an edu-communication expert from Sao Paolo University. Mrs. Strivens said that she was aware that the Union was in need of strategic re-thinking in areas of funding and membership in order to fulfill its mandate to strengthen Catholic Media.

Mrs. Strivens is married to Tony, is a mother of 5, grandmother of 4 and publisher and Editor of the Trefoil Magazine. She is the Catholic representative on the Religious Broadcasting Panel of the South African Broadcasting Corporation and past Chairperson of Independent Forum for Religious Broadcasting – an interfaith advocacy and training group. She was part of the South African NGO team that participated in the UN Women’s Summit in Beijing. She is also a member of the International Association of University Women. She is also on the Academic Board of St Augustine’s College, South Africa’s first Catholic University.

Mrs Strivens can be contacted by email before the beginning of July 2007 elsemari@mweb.co.za.
Issued By: Fr Chris Townsend
Information Officer
Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC)
email: townsend@sacbc.org.za
Website: www.sacbc.org.za