On 2 February 2012, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission
(BCCSA) handed down judgment in a series of complaints lodged by a
number of viewers of the e-News and e.tv channels. The complaints
were sparked by the broadcast of footage relating to the attack on
former Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi which led to his
death. The crux of these complaints was that e.tv had violated
clause 3(a) of the BCCSA Code which prohibits the broadcast of
"violence which does not play an integral
role in developing the plot, character or theme of the material as
a whole". The complaint also concerned the lack of
audience advisories with respect to some of the broadcasts and the
The respondents argued, amongst other things, that the footage
formed an integral part of the news item; that the photographic
material was already in the public domain; that it was their duty
to inform the public what had happened, and that the broadcast of
the footage was in the public interest. The BCCSA held that the
repeated screening of the gruesome attack on Gaddafi could not be
seen as integral to the news item. In any event, held the BCCSA,
the fact that the images were already in the public domain did not
negate the protection afforded to television viewers. Further, it
was held that no public interest purpose was served by the repeated
screening of the footage as it was not necessary for a better
understanding of the news in relation to Gaddafi's death. The
respondents were ordered to pay fines to the total of R35 000 to
the BCCSA. e-TV has appealed the decision.
With respect to audience advisories, the BCCSA held that there had
been a breach of the Code with respect to the headlines preceding
the news bulletin where the footage was shown without a prior
advisory. This aspect of the decision represents a new development
in the case law of the BCCSA as it means that where violent footage
appears in headlines, there must be audience advisories before the
headlines are shown.
In our view, the BCCSA's reliance on the number of times that
the footage was repeated during the broadcast as part of its
determination of whether the footage was an "integral"
part of the report may not be the correct approach. Firstly, the
question whether the footage is an integral part of the report
should be determined with respect to the content of the footage in
relation to the rest of the report, and not the number of times
that the footage is shown. Secondly, the approach adopted by the
BCCSA fails to take into account editorial discretion with respect
to the number of times that violent footage should be shown during
a broadcast. Thirdly, the ruling results in uncertainty for
broadcasters on this issue as it is unclear how many times violent
footage can be included in a broadcast before it exceeds the
acceptable maximum. The ruling indicates that when it comes to
violent footage, the BCCSA may take a somewhat conservative
approach and broadcasters should accordingly be cautious when
utilising such footage.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
There has been much discussion in the media regarding the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), triggered by the recently announced Federal Law No. (12) of 2016 (the Amendment), which amends Federal Decree-Law No. (5) of 2012 on Combating Cybercrimes (the Law).
The philosophy behind the removal is to enable ISPs to bring down their internet data price as low as possible so as to gain more subscribers as well as make it cheaper for Nigerians to access the internet.
Anyone entering Qatar by way of the Doha International Airport has no doubt noticed the large billboards prominently advertising upcoming events, new real estate developments, fast cars, hot fashions, and any other information of potential interest to people here.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).