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Thu Oct 23 06:29:07 SAST 2014

M-Net fined R20 000 for daytime boobs

Sapa | 29 November, 2012 11:04

Subscription television network M-Net was fined R20 000 for broadcasting a television show which contained adult conduct at a time when children were likely to be watching, the BCCSA said in a statement on Thursday.

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) received a complaint about an M-Net broadcast on October 21 at 11.30am of the programme Hollywood's Best Film Directors.

Gareth Eggers approached the BCCSA because the show was rated only PG13.

"... There are multiple stills in the featured directors' previous movies that show female nudity [breasts], implied sex, as well as one instance of female genitalia [the infamous Sharon Stone moment in Basic Instinct]," Eggers wrote in his complaint.

"I find this unacceptable and negligent, that this content is shown on a Sunday during family time."

M-Net responded that one of its employees responsible for arranging programme schedules had been negligent in allowing the show to be broadcast at that time.

Subsequent to similar BCCSA findings, M-Net said it had taken steps to minimise the opportunity for such errors.

These included additional staff training and disciplinary action against staff who deviated from standard operating procedures.

"We raise these matters to assure both the Commission and the complainant that the issue of compliance with the code of conduct is not taken lightly at M-Net."

Just prior to the screening of the offending show, M-Net had increased the number of its channels and there was a corresponding increase of work for those responsible for scheduling, M-Net said.

It apologised to Eggers and said the responsible employee had been disciplined.

Eggers described the response he received from MultiChoice, M-Net's sister company, as "shocking".

MultiChoice claimed it could not be held accountable, and advised him to ensure that the parental control was activated on his system.

It later apologised, before the Commission, and said the response was issued by an employee who was not authorised to do so.

The BCCSA said it appreciated the measures M-Net had put in place to reduce the chances of such errors recurring.

"Given the large number of channels managed by M-Net, we agree that it is in fact remarkable that more errors are not made.

"Yet, as is well known, M-Net is held vicariously responsible for any errors which its schedulers make," the BCCSA said.

The maximum fine of R60,000 was found to be inappropriate, and the BCCSA therefore imposed a lesser fine of R20 000.

This amount, plus VAT, needed to be paid to the registrar before the end of the year, the BCCSA said.

M-Net Statement responding to the fines in full

M-Net is a responsible television broadcaster. As a company, we respect the Broadcasting Code of Conduct, as well as the judgments of the BCCSA (Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa).

M-Net has anexcellent track record in terms of classifying and broadcasting age-restricted material and protecting children. Hundreds of programmes are scheduled and broadcast in line with the BCCSA’s Code of Conduct across our more than forty channels on a daily basis.

The screening of inappropriate content on any of our channels before the watershed is an anomaly and serious offence within the company, which always necessitates immediate internal investigations.

M-Net apologises for broadcasting the insert “Hollywood’s Best Directors” on its main channel on Sunday, 21 October. The same applies to screening an episode of the horror genre mini-series Bag of Bones on M-Net Movies 1, a month earlier, on the morning of Thursday, 20 September.

M-Net accepts, without any reservations, the ruling of the BCCSA in both cases as well as the sanctions imposed. 

Even before the BCCSA tribunal decided on the judgment, M-Net investigated the reasons behind the scheduling errors in detail. The necessary disciplinary action was taken against the employees concerned, and the stringent internal systems that M-Net has in place to avoid such errors have been re-emphasised to all staff.

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