Broadcasting Complaints Commission - A Law Unto Themselves - 12 May 2011


The Christian Action Network is concerned at the blatant disregard that the Broadcasting Complaints Commission gives to any concerns raised by ordinary South African citizens about sexist and sexually explicit programmes on TV.

Naked Exploitation

This has again come to the fore in the BCC's response to public complaints about E-TV's Naked News programme.

"They appear to have refused to consider gender complaints or even contemplate gender issues such as sexism, as they are required to do under our Constitution, Equality Act (PEPUDA) and international Convention obligations," says Taryn Hodgson, International Co-ordinator of the Christian Action Network.

"In fact, they seem to take pride in rejecting most public complaints.

Out of Step

"They are out of step with other first world countries' policies on broadcasting. In England, sexually explicit programmes are not allowed on free-to-air channels.

"When they do act, they merely give a slap on wrist to the broadcaster in question which sends the message that they are not serious at all.


"In a shocking decision from the BCCSA (May 2010), Multichoice was not fined for broadcasting a sitcom which depicted simulated bestiality (a clear contravention of the Broadcasting Code), because they claimed they had no way of knowing what was in the programme. Since much of their content on their channels comes from overseas, they claim ignorance of the contents of the programmes on their channels. If a programme contained child porn, could Multichoice then claim that they 'did not know what was in the programme'? This again shows that the BCCSA has no teeth in dealing with complaints.


"The BCC Code ignores the special need to protect the right to dignity and equality of women, a previously discriminated against group, as outlined in the Constitution and Equality Act.


"International Protocols such as The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of 1979 ratified by SA in 1995, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), ratified in 2005 and the UN Beijing Declaration of 1995 uphold the dignity of women, yet these have been ignored by the BCC.

Article 5 of CEDAW says "State Parties shall take all appropriate measures... To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices... and all other practices which are based on...stereotyped roles for men and women."

Effective Measures
The African Charter not only gives recognition to a woman's right to dignity but also obliges state parties to adopt and implement measures to ensure the protection of every woman's right to respect for dignity. Article 12(b) says "State parties must eliminate all stereotypes in...the media that perpetuate such discrimination." Article 13(m) says "States Parties shall take effective legislative and administrative measures to prevent the exploitation and abuse of women in advertising and pornography."

The Beijing Declaration says in Article 24, "state parties should take all necessary measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women."

Conflict of Interests

The persons appointed to the Board seem to be of extreme libertarian views and dominated by industry insiders. There appears to have been no change in the person appointed as BCC Chairman in the last 10 years. It must be remembered that Professor Kobus van Rooyen represented Tasko De Reuck in the Constitutional Court in 2003 in defending his right to possess child porn (ostensibly for 'research purposes'). He also wrote a booklet defending a major retailer of pornography's right to continue selling porn magazines even in family stores.

Child Porn

The BCC Code is out of step with the Film and Publications Act legislation regarding the definition of child porn and they have ignored the definition of pornography in the Sexual Offences Act (Amendment, 2007) which also makes it a criminal offence to expose children to porn as defined in the Act.

Silence on Sexism

The protection of freedom of speech is vital when it comes to the freedom of political speech. However, when it comes to right to peddle smut, that is a different matter. The Code makes no reference to the need to uphold public decency and the potential harm of broadcasting sexually explicit or degrading material. Under its eleven guidelines for broadcasting to children (6.1 - 6.11), the BCC Code makes no mention at all of the harm to children from exposure to sexually explicit material, yet it discusses violence and its portrayal in six of the eleven points.

Sexualisation of Youth

Furthermore, the BCC have ignored very credible research on the alarming trend of the sexualisation of girls. Research of the prevalence and consequences of the sexualisation of girls has been well documented in the American Psychological Association Task Force's Report on the Sexualization of Girls.

Questionable Independence

"The BCC is a self-regulating industry body. They are funded by the broadcasters, therefore claims of independence are questionable.

"In terms of the Constitution, the regulation of Broadcasters is supposed to be independent and serve the public interest. However, the BCC admits to receiving 5 complaints a day about Naked News yet it appears to be dismissive of the concerns of these good citizens.

Time for a Truly Independent Complaints Commission

"The Christian Action Network therefore calls for the BCC to be scrapped and for a truly independent body accountable to the public to be formed."

 CONTACT: International Co-ordinator of the Christian Action Network, Taryn Hodgson on 072 215 4801 or 021-689 4480, E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa [email protected] - 021-689-4481 -
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