M&G vindicated by BCCSA ruling

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) this week denied an appeal by SABC 3 against a finding that it contravened the broadcasting code.

Read the judgement (PDF)

In its 7pm news bulletin on November 3 last year, the South African Broadcasting Corporation channel aired an insert that alleged corruption and racism on the part of a senior M&G reporter.

In it, businessman Robert Gumede claimed M&G senior investigator Sam Sole received corrupt payments in 2001, when working for investigative magazine Noseweek, from businessman John Sterenborg. Gumede said this had influenced Sole’s subsequent coverage of Gumede in the M&G.

“Here’s a payment, one of the first payments that Sterenborg made out to a journalist ... who goes out to attack black people, to say that they are corrupt, they bribe people ...” Gumede said.

The insert failed to include the M&G‘s explanation, which was that “the payment” concerned Sterenborg’s reimbursement of Sole for a R900 air ticket Sole had paid for himself.

SABC violated basic journalistic principles
The BCCSA found that an appeal tribunal was “not likely to differ from the first judgement”, said spokesperson Shouneez Martin.

M&G editor Nic Dawes said on Thursday he was delighted by the outcome.

“It is further vindication of our belief that the SABC violated basic journalistic principles in airing serious and false allegations against the M&G and Sam Sole without corroboration, and without affording us proper right of reply.

“The original ruling is one of the strongest the BCCSA has ever handed down, and we look forward to hearing it summarised during prime time news. More importantly, we hope that the new editorial leadership at the SABC will be able use this case as an object lesson for staff in how the public broadcaster ought not to operate,” said Dawes.

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