A complaint was received about the Harley Carnes US Report, which is broadcast most weekdays with Kieno Kammies on Cape Talk. The Complainant argued that the report was one-sided in the sense that it provided a “Republican” view of the administration of President Obama. He referred to four broadcasts.
- Clause 11, the news clause, does not apply to commentary, only to what may be termed News Proper.
(2) The right of reply in terms of clause 13(2) is a right which is only available to the person whose views have been criticised on a matter of public importance.
(3) Thus, only clause 12 is applicable to the present broadcast.
(4) The BCCSA has on occasion stated that perfect balance, as required by clause 12 of the Code, is mostly, if not always, an unattainable ideal. That means that a practical approach must be followed and each case decided on its own merits. It has also been held that “public importance” in the first place amounts to that which is of public interest to South Africans. It does not amount to what is “interesting”, but relates instead to matters that are directly relevant for South Africans. It has, accordingly, been held by this Tribunal that, since it is generally impossible for this Tribunal to establish what all the facts are in a foreign situation, public interest usually pertains to South African situations, the details and background of which are usually readily available to the Tribunal. Of course, certain foreign issues may be of particular importance to South Africans, but no administrative tribunal should speculate as to the facts. All decisions must be reached after proper inquiry and consideration. To simply jump to conclusions is impermissible. It is also particularly difficult to ascertain foreign facts – let alone making decisions regarding balance.
(5) Much that happens in the USA indirectly affects the world economy. The matters raised by the Complainant are also relevant. However, they do not qualify as matters of “public importance” for South Africa – at least, not in the sense that the comments may be regarded as of such a nature that the rules of freedom of expression have been overstepped. Much that is broadcast in South Africa in regard to foreign issues indeed raises queries, but in each case the BCCSA must decide whether it would, in terms of the Broadcasting Code, be justified in a finding that what was broadcast was of such a nature that it should not have been heard. Even if what was broadcast supports a United States Republican Party or another political party’s point of view, the likely listeners to Cape Talk are not so gullible that they were likely to have accepted what they heard as the last word on the subject.
Complaint not upheld.
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