Cape Town – The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) has again rapped the SABC's 7de Laan soap on SABC2 over the knuckles, ordering the soap to apologise to viewers for contravening the Broadcasting Code of Conduct for broadcasting violence and language not suitable for the timeslot.
The BCCSA has ordered 7de Laan and SABC2 to broadcast a lengthy on-screen statement, as well as an accompanying voice-over before 22 May telling viewers that 7de Laan had broadcast two episodes in February depicting a violent attack in Oppiekoffie with violence and language unsuitable for the timeslot and which contravened the code.
Viewers complained to the BCCSA that the violence and languages depicted in the February episodes which depicted an attempted robbery, was not suitable for the timeslot and harmful to children.
One viewer told the BCCSA "We do not want such violence in a family programme. Therefore I'm not watching 7de Laan anymore."
SABC2 told the BCCSA that the public broadcaster's TV channel "regrets that the hostage drama offended viewers as that was not the intention" and that SABC2 placed a 13V on-screen advisory on the episodes to alert viewers, but that there was no verbal advisory.
SABC2 said that the soap "always endeavours to handle violence – be it psychological or physical – in a responsible way – and never depict it gratuitously".
The soap, produced by Danie Odendaal Productions, admitted that the episodes caused "widespread reaction from our viewers – unequaled in the history of the show" and that viewers "found the fear and hysteria of the hostages in Oppiekoffie believable and the thugs well-defined as characters". The soap said it tried to "avoid showing the close-up of the guns as well as the use of them", that it showed "very little blood".
"The reason that the hostage drama took place over two episodes was that it was a big story that could not have been resolved in one episode of 24 minutes," the BCCSA heard.
‘Many 7de Laan scenes were too explicit’
The BCCSA in its judgment said that "broadcasters bear a heavy burden of responsibility in a country such as South Africa, where much emotional trauma is suffered because of acts of violence. This makes it all the more important to take special care with story lines where the details are within the producers' control."
The BCCSA said 7de Laan on SABC2 showed "graphic and explicit scenes" of "repetitive, multiple instances of pointing guns in a threatening manner", verbal abuse and unwelcome suggestions of a sexual nature, a hostage bleeding profusely, the traumatised mother of a crying baby who was taken by an attacker, and a character suffering a heart attack.
"Family viewing time, when large numbers of children are part of the audience, is not the appropriate time to highlight issues such as hostage dramas where injury and the death of innocent people occur," the BCCSA ruled.
The BCCSA slammed SABC2 and the soap, ruling that "many of the7de Laan scenes were too explicit".
Although SABC2 showed a 13V on-screen marker, "even if parents and other caregivers had taken notice of the advisory, it was insufficient to inform them of what was in store for viewers," the BCCSA ruled.
"The broadcaster transgressed the code by broadcasting material that is harmful to children at a time when a large number of children are likely to have been among the viewers. The 13V visual advisory was unrealistic and insufficient for this kind of material."
"In this case there was not even a positive outcome to the event in the concluding episode," said the BCCSA, since the character of Danelle died.
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago didn't respond to a request seeking comment; neither did SABC TV head publicist Zandile Nkonyeni respond to a media enquiry.
Three years ago in June 2012 the BCCSA also found that SABC2 and 7de Laan crossed the line with a too explicit portrayal of attempted suicide and slammed the events depicted on SABC2 as too graphic for the timeslot.
SABC2 and 7de Laan were then issued with a reprimand and the broadcaster cautioned to be even more careful with material that is broadcast during family time.
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