South Africa – Broadcasting Complaints Commission (1993)

Code of Ethics of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa set up in 1993 by the National Association of Broadcasters.

1. Preamble
The fundamental principle to be upheld is that the freedom of the electronic media is indivisible from, and subject to the same constraints as that of the individual and rests on the individual’s fundamental right to be informed and freely to receive and disseminate opinions.

2. Reporting of news
2.1 The electronic media shall be obliged to report news truthfully, accurately and with due impartiality.

2.2 News shall be presented in the correct context and in a balanced manner, without any intentional or negligent departure from the facts whether by:
2.2.1 distortion, exaggeration or misrepresentation;
2.2.2 material omission; or
2.2.3 summarisation.

2.3 Only what may reasonably be true having regard to the source of the news, may be presented as facts, and such facts shall be broadcast fairly with due regard to context and importance. Where a report is not based on facts or is founded on opinion, allegation, rumour or supposition, it shall be presented in such manner as to indicate this clearly.

2.4 Where there is reason to doubt the correctness of a report and it is practicable to verify the correctness thereof, it shall be verified. Where it has not been practicable to verify the correctness of a report, it shall be mentioned in such report.

2.5 Where it subsequently appears that a broadcast was incorrect in a material respect, it shall be rectified spontaneously and without reservation or delay. The correction shall be presented with a degree of prominence which is adequate and fair so as readily to attract attention.

2.6 Reports, photographs or video material relating to matters involving indecency or obscenity shall be presented with due sensitivity towards the prevailing moral climate. In particular, the electronic media shall avoid the broadcast of indecent or obscene matter.

2.7 The identity of rape victims and other victims of sexual violence shall not be broadcast without the consent of the victim.

3. Comment
3.1 The electronic media shall be entitled to comment upon or criticise any actions or events of public importance provided such comments or criticisms are fairly and honestly made.

3.2 Comment shall be presented in such manner that it appears clearly that it is comment, and shall be made on facts truly stated or fairly indicated and referred to.

3.3 Comment shall be an honest expression of opinion, without malice or dishonest motives, and shall take fair and balanced account of all available facts which are material to the matter commented upon.

4. Elections and referenda
4.1 Where during an election period or referendum period a signatory grants access to its services to a political party, organisation or movement or a candidate taking part in national, regional or by-election, or referendum, or has itself during an election period or referendum period criticised a political party, organisation or movement or a candidate taking part in such an election or referendum it is under a duty to grant an opposing or criticised (as the case may be) political party, organisation or movement or a candidate an equal opportunity to its services to state its policy or respond to the criticism of the signatory or the political party, organisation or movement or candidate to whom the signatory has granted access: provided that this clause does not in any way detract from the duties which a signatory has in accordance with the other clauses of this Code.

4.2 For purposes of this clause, “election period” and “referendum period” means a period which commences when the State President promulgates an election or by-election for Parliament or referendum in the Government Gazette and lapses when polling closes on the (last) election day, or referendum day, as the case may be.

4.3 If, within 48 hours before the commencement of the polling period or during the polling period, a signatory intends broadcasting a programme in which a particular political party or candidate is criticized, the signatory shall ensure that the political party or candidate is given a reasonable opportunity to respond thereto in the same programme, or to do so as soon as it is reasonably practicable thereafter.

5. Privacy
The electronic media shall exercise exceptional care and consideration in matters involving the private lives and dignity of individuals, bearing in mind that the right to privacy and dignity may be overridden by a legitimate public interest.

6. Payment for information from a criminal
No payment shall be made to persons engaged in crime or other notorious misbehaviour, or to persons who have been engaged in crime or other notorious misbehaviour in order to obtain information concerning such behaviour, unless compelling societal interests indicate the contrary.

7. General
7.1 The electronic media shall:
7.1.1 not present material which is indecent or obscene or harmful or offensive to public morals, which is offensive to religious convictions or feelings of a section of the population, which is likely to harm relations between sections of the population or is likely to prejudice the safety of the state or the public order:
7.1.2 not, without due care and sensitivity, present material which contains brutality, violence or atrocities;
7.1.3 exercise due care and responsibility in the presentation of programmes where a large number of children are likely to be part of the audience.

7.2 Controversial Issues of Public Importance
7.2.1 in presenting a programme in which controversial issues of public importance are discussed a broadcasting license shall make reasonable efforts to fairly present significant points of view either in the same programme or in a subsequent programme forming part of the same series of programmes presented within a reasonable period of time and in substantially the same time slot.
7.2.2 A person whose views have been criticised in a broadcasting programme on a controversial issue of public importance, shall be given reasonable opportunity by the broadcasting licensee to reply to such criticism, should that person so request.

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