South Africa: Naked News Abides By Standards says BCCSA, Evokes Religious Outcry
A late-night news bulletin on e.tv that features nude women was not in contravention of broadcasting standards, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) said on Tuesday. "It is within the watershed time for adult viewing and gives a verbal warning beforehand, as well as an age restriction of 18 with nudity that is shown throughout the show," BCCSA spokeswoman Shouneez Martin told Sapa. "We have also noted that when the show is viewed on DSTV, it falls within the 18 age restriction and can therefore be blocked by viewers if necessary."
Naked News is an international news programme screened after the late night movie at 10pm, featuring female presenters who are nude or strip during the bulletin. Religious groups and rights activists have kicked up a fuss over the show, believing it is in contravention of broadcasting laws and a risk to children who may chance upon it.
Errol Naidoo of the Family Policy Institute started a campaign in protest of the show and other "pornographic content" titled "E-tv Mass Switch Off". In a letter on the institute's website, Naidoo states he is organising a mass boycott of the channel by churches and viewers until pornography is no longer shown. "What e.tv refuses to acknowledge is the rampant sexual abuse of women and children, the 50,000 women raped annually and the fact that South Africa has the most parentless homes as a result of HIV/Aids-related deaths.
"Alarmingly, the terrible consequences of the sexual exploitation of women and children fuelled by pornography have not convinced e.tv to abandon its anti-family programming policies." Naidoo said he had contacted over 2000 churches and their leaders to join the campaign. He was hoping that if enough viewers boycotted the channel, e.tv would lose advertising revenue and be forced to comply with their demands.
"If you continue supporting e.tv, you will strengthen their hand to continue demeaning and objectifying women and exposing children to sexually explicit images on national television," he writes in the letter.
The BCCSA said it had received more than five complaints a day from individuals, organisations and churches since the show started on April 22. "At the end of the day, it is the broadcasters who are supposed to educate people about their blockout systems... when we get complaints, then we do still educate people about the broadcasting code and what is allowed or not," Martin said. "Parents should also take the responsibility... they have the right to remove the channel from their TVs as well as supervise their children."
A BCCSA judgment in 2008, regarding a porn movie shown on e.tv at 11.25pm, held a similar tone. The commission stated that with children viewing TV late at night, the responsibility shifted to parents and guardians. "When a television set is brought into a home it must be based on an informed decision, which implies that parents and other guardians cannot and may not simply relax and leave the sole responsibility to the broadcaster," the ruling read.