Broadcasting Code of Conduct training

August 10, 2016

 

The number of complaints before the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa has grown over the past two years.  An analysis of these complaints before the BCCSA shows that many of these cases shows a lack of attention to the basic code of conduct to which National Association of Broadcaster members ascribe.  The judgements in the last month include:

 

Reel vs MixFM  – NEWS  (July 22 2016) 

In this case MixFM sourced a news item from News24 which was provocative, then failed to mention that the website indicated the report was not confirmed.  By running an unconfirmed report without additional sources MixFM was a contravention of Clause 11(5) of the BCCSA code of conduct.  The station was reprimanded for their poor attention to detail and failure to check facts. 

 

The full judgement can be read here.

 

What concerned the team adjudicating on the matter was that the subject matter concerned Muslims  and Jews.  The station merely read the News24 article as fact concerning the alleged arrest of three South African Muslims in Jerusalem by Israeli police.  But the story was erroneous and the sources vague.  The judge found, inter alia,  that MixFM failed to verify the facts, nor did they tell listeners that the story was unverified.  It was presented as fact. 

 

The need to train broadcast journalists in basic ethics is growing.  While journalism school's across South Africa have established courses in ethics and the code of conduct,  some journalists are leaving these institutions without a basic knowledge of law.  As the BCCSA commissioner HL Venter pointed out.

 

"In the light of prevailing circumstances in the world and in this country concerning international terrorism and political unrest and uncertainty, any news in this context should be handled very carefully."  

 

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority vs M-Net (March 2016)

 

In another case in March 2016 Carte Blanche is accused of breaching the basic tenets of the BCCSA code by not providing the simple right of reply in an investigation into the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority.   The M-Net keynote programme personally identified two managers and then failed to provide them the opportunity to reply to their allegations.  In its ruling, commissioners for the BCCSA found that in their words 

 

"This unjustifiable portrayal was attributable to certain comment not being based on reliable facts, reasonable efforts not having been made to fairly present opposing points of view, and the failure to afford a right of reply where this was warranted.”

 

The full judgement can be read here.

 

As these cases show,  there's a trend that which commentators ascribe to poor adherence to the basic premise of journalism,  and a lack of understanding about the right way to cover contentious material.  

 

frayintermedia is seeking to address this with support from SANEF and recently, the Press Ombudsman.  We have built a Press Code eLearning programme which has seen hundreds of print and online media sign up to complete.  We are now planning a project to deliver the BCCSA Code of Conduct training in the next few months.  

 

For broadcaster's interested in the programme,  please contact frayintermedia  info@frayintermedia.com 

 

 

 

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