SABC fined R10 000 for 'vulgar' Metro FM Awards

2017-05-02 09:09

Cape Town – The SABC has been fined R10 000 for the "vulgar" 16th Metro FM Awards that was broadcast in February during prime time and SABC1's failure to warn audiences and properly protect younger viewers.

From the 17th Metro FM Awards set for 2018 the SABC will now likely employ a 5-minute live broadcast delay to edit out profanities from presenters and musicians before it's broadcast to the public.

In its ruling, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) slammed the SABC for its failure to explain what the public broadcaster is doing in terms of viewing restriction measures to protect children watching the awards show.

The SABC and the Metro FM Awards also failed to show any audience parental guidance advisories on screen before or during the awards broadcast. 

The SABC told the BCCSA that it's not responsible for the vulgar language at its radio station's awards show and that "the conduct as expressed by the artists was beyond our control".

The SABC said that it did pre-censor artists' music tracks for the 16th Metro FM Awards and told them to use certain words. They however only did so during rehearsals after the music director "cleaned" the lyrics but said that artists suddenly reverted back to the original versions of their songs during performances in the live broadcast.

The SABC said artists used profanity during their acceptance speeches because "artists spoke based on emotions at the time of winning the award" and that the broadcaster can't control that.

The profane language heard during the awards show included multiple instances of the "f" and "n" words used by artists like Ricky Rick, Gemini Major, Miss Pru, Cassper Nyovest and DJ Speedsta during performances and the accepting of awards at the Metro FM Awards 2017 on 25 February.

This language isn't allowed on the public broadcaster during the day and prime time before the so-called "watershed" time period when a large number of children are likely to be part of the TV audience.

The SABC agreed that the broadcasting of the profane language was "unacceptable" said it will now "explore the possibility of a 5-minute delayed broadcast to align itself with international norms to ensure stricter control. The delay will allow the SABC to edit out unwanted and unwarranted actions."

The BCCSA said the SABC could have anticipated the usage of profane language and that with the broadcaster's understanding of the nature of live broadcast risks, "one would have thought that they would put up an advisory sign to enhance their protection measures – however they did not".

The BCCSA said "one would have thought that the SABC would take the opportunity to address the BCCSA on strict implementation of viewing restriction measures in protection of children in the future. The SABC has missed this opportunity".

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