BCCSA defends dignity of women

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa took a stand for the protection and dignity of women in a judgment handed down this week in which a radio station was fined R15 000 for abusive remarks against women made on air.

A BCCSA tribunal ruled that Heart 104.9 FM had transgressed Clause 4(1) of the Broadcasting Code when the presenter, Phat Joe, referred to his ex wife as a “bitch” and a “whore”, thereby sending out the message that it is acceptable to use abusive language against women. The insults could also be construed as advocating violence or, at least, unlawful conduct in the form of crimen iniuria against women, the tribunal found.

The ruling was a sequel to a complaint by a listener, Ms Zenobia Africa, who also said that the programme was broadcast at a time when children could be exposed to it. The tribunal held that most children would have been in school by 8.30am and that this was not a time when a large number of children would be likely to have been part of the audience

In its argument for sanction, the Broadcaster pleaded that a reprimand would suffice as there was no intention to malice or hatred. The Commissioners however concluded “that the contravention was a most serious one” that impinged on the equality and dignity of women which were constitutionally crucial.

In June the BCCCSA was criticised by Christian organisations who accused it of not being prepared to contemplate gender issues such as sexism when it ruled that the controversial TV programme Naked News was not degrading to women or likely to contribute to violence against women.

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