702 sticks to its guns on blue light task team story: iLIVE
This is a response to Phylicia Oppelt's stinging editorial about Radio 702 ("702 should take a closer look at what Press Code says") on June 21.
It seems that the gravamen of Oppelt's complaint against Talk Radio 702 is that we gave journalist Graeme Hoskens a right of reply 40 minutes after our interview with Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mzwandile Petros and that, in her view, this is an affront to the Press Code, which obliges the press to report "news truthfully, accurately and fairly".
Oppelt further refers to the Press Code's provision that "news shall be presented in context and in a balanced manner, without any intentional or negligent departure from the facts ... " She draws the conclusion that we did not adhere to this code.
While we support the Press Code, we are, in fact, a signatory of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA, whose code is similar, with respect to news reporting, to the Press Code.
The commission's code further requires broadcasters to, "in presenting a programme in which a controversial issue of public importance is discussed ... make reasonable efforts to fairly present opposing points of view either in the same programme or in a subsequent programme forming part of the same series... presented within a reasonable period of time of the original broadcast and within substantially the same time slot".
By getting Hosken's response to General Petros's interview on the same day and in the same programme, we complied with both the letter and the spirit of the commission's Code of Conduct.
Most importantly, we wanted our listeners to get clarity on the issue on the table, namely whether our freeways are safe or not! I am not sure that I understand in what respect 702 has distorted, misrepresented, exaggerated, or summarised the story.
We reflected on the news article by Hoskens about the so-called blue light task team, got General Petros's response to the story and seeing that his response denied that there was any truth to The Times article, we then got the journalist concerned to respond to that denial.
We vehemently deny that we practised any sloppy journalism.
We invite Oppelt to lodge a complaint with the commission and since we are bound by that code we will abide by it should we be found guilty.
Oppelt further refers to a payment for R22800 made by SAPS in 2010 to Primedia Broadcasting's Yusuf Abramjee and Katy Katapodis for media training and suggests that there is a link between our decision to interview General Petros and that payment (which was for services rendered).
We categorically deny that there is any such link. In fact, Oppelt's link is at best mischievous and at worst malicious.
John Robbie responded to your editorial on his show on June 21, saying that he did what he thought was honourable, ethical and that he stands by his actions.
We support him on this. We also support his view that the editorial attacking him and the radio station is unfortunate as it has deflected listeners and readers from the real issue.
For more on his response to the editorial, you can download the podcast on the 702 website at http://www.pod702.co.za/podcast/bestofjohn/20120620JRBESTOF1.mp3. -