The word “fuckin” was heard by the complainant in a promo for a comedy. The promo was broadcast during a soap in family viewing time. The BCCSA Adjudicator’s decision was that the word wtelevisionas “fuckin” and that it was unacceptable at that time of the evening. The SABC was reprimanded. 

On appeal the SABC argued strenuously that the word was, indeed, “freakin” and that the actress involved had also adamantly said that she had never said “fuckin”. In fact she is, the Tribunal was informed, much against the use of foul language in her private and acting career. The Tribunal noted with interest how younger people, who were asked what they had heard, consistently said that they heard “freakin”. The head of Comedy at the SABC, Ms Anne Davis, who is also a trained speech therapist, mentioned that one could also derive from the manner in which the word was said that the actress had said “freakin”. Mr Hassen, for the SABC, also argued that no one involved in the pre-checking of the material picked up the word “fuckin”.

The Tribunal held that the word was “fuckin”, in spite of the fact that it was accepted that it had not been intended to be “fuckin”. It is, however, ultimately the Tribunal which must decide the matter.  

 The Tribunal was convinced, however, that there had been no negligence on the side of the SABC. A reasonable broadcaster would not, given the evidence before the Tribunal, have realized that the word could be heard as “fuckin”. Once again, it was also accepted that the actress intended to say “freakin”, which is an acceptable word, though derived from “fuck”. 

The Appeal was upheld.

[2009] JOL 2009 24489 (BCCSA)