A complaint was received about offending and upsetting graphic sex-related material aired in a Cape radioTalk midday news report on 4 August 2006. The Tribunal held that the news item in question was not so graphic as to require a listener advisory or warning.  It was also taken into account that since the target audience of news broadcasts is not children, it was unlikely that large numbers of children would have been exposed to this bulletin.  At 12.00 on a Friday most children would have been at school, in any case. The electronic news media are characterised by news items that are fleeting in nature and the briefness of the news item under discussion attests that it was not sensationalised, but reported in a balanced and fair manner. Since the media play a powerful role in shaping public opinion, perceptions and attitudes, they have a responsibility to keep the public informed. It was concluded that in the light of the guarantee of freedom of expression and the finding by the Constitutional Court that freedom of speech includes the right to air offensive material, the relevant words could not be judged to have exceeded the limits of the broadcaster’s freedom of expression or the boundaries of offensiveness and are not serious enough to be judged as a contravention of the Broadcasting Code.  Complaint not upheld.

[2006] JOL 18779 (BCTSA)