Pornography in the Media: briefing by e.tv and Daily Voice

Home Affairs

13 December 2005
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HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 December 2005
PORNOGRAPHY IN THE MEDIA: BRIEFING BY ETV AND DAILY VOICE


Documents handed out:
eTV submission
Letter from e.tv Channel Director to Home Affairs Portfolio Committee (Appendix 1)
Code of Conduct by Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa available at
www.bccsa.co.za
Daily Voice submission
Letter of complaint to Committee on treatment of women in the media (Appendix 2)

Chairperson:
Mr HP Chauke (ANC)

SUMMARY
The Committee and the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs raised concerns about both e.tv and the Daily Voice’s social responsibility in preventing children from accessing pornography. e.tv explained that there were clear limitations put in place in terms of the Code of Conduct set out by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa. The Daily Voice stated that as a provocative tabloid newspaper it carefully monitored the tolerance of society and endeavoured not to exceed the legal and moral constraints of society. Members where told that it is not only the media's responsibility to ensure that children did not watch pornography but also the responsibility of their parents.

MINUTES
e.tv presentation
Ms Bronwyn Keene-Young, e.tv's Channel Director, and Mr Dan Rosengarten, e.tv's legal representative, represented the television station. Ms Keene-Young explained that e.tv could not attend the previous meeting called by Parliament because the invitation had been issued at such short notice while the company’s CEO was overseas at the time.

In her introduction, she noted that the station had been launched in October 1998. The company had to adhere to certain conditions stipulated in the commercial free-to-air licence agreement issued by ICASA. This was negotiated by the station with ICASA on a yearly basis. It had 22% market share and abided by the terms and conditions of the Code of Conduct set out by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA). Material unsuitable for children was permitted to be broadcast after the "watershed period" ended at 9pm.

Mr Rosengarten noted that e.tv was allowed to broadcast pornography only after 11pm in the evenings. The station did not show xxx rated films as these were not allowed to be shown in South Africa.

The e.tv presentation covered the following topics: its unavoidable non-attendance at the 15 November hearings and the reaction this had received; the BCCSA Code of Conduct, freedom of expression as recognised by Section 16 of the Constitution, adult content on e.tv, ads for mobile adult content, standard of tolerance (see document).

Discussion
Ms Kaylan (DA) commented that e.tv had a social responsibility to protect a child against pornography. She questioned the view that school-going children were in bed by nine pm during the holidays. She noted that at that time during a recent e.tv screening of the James Bond movie, Dr No, an advertisement had played showing a women stripping with a seductive female voice advertising an adult content sms service. She commented that after the advertisement had played, another advertisement promoting a kiddies movie had been shown. This showed that e.tv was aware that children would be watching at that time of night. She commented that Childline wanted to take action.

Ms Dudley (ACDP) said that whilst e.tv was working on putting a draft policy together, the MPs now have to do something about pornography.

Mr Beukman wanted to know if e.tv knew what percentage of children watched their station after the watershed period ended at 9pm.

Ms Van Wyk (ANC) commented that the Code of Conduct was not a rule but a guide. She said that if she decided to watch a movie with an age registration at a cinema it was her decision. The problem with the Code of Conduct was the definition of a "child".

Ms Mars (IFP) commented that the ball was in their court. She said that Members of Parliament had to take the matter on board.

Ms Swart (DA) wanted to know if e.tv was only looking at the legal facts.

Ms Keene-Young replied that they were unable send a representative to the meeting held on 15 November 2005 due to short notice. She said that they always consult with the CEO of the company. She said that they do not schedule ads anywhere. She said that they do not start broadcasting pornographic material immediately after the watershed period. She said that children watching tv late at night is the responsibility of the parent and not the broadcaster. She said that percentage of children watching after the watershed period is available but she does not have them with her and will make them available to the committee. She said that they do comply with regulations set by the Film and Publications board.

Mr Rosengarten replied that e.tv did not have the right to broadcast everything.

Ms Van Wyk (ANC) wanted to know why the age restriction was 16 and not 18.

Ms Keene-Young replied that she had not been around when the Code of Conduct was drafted. She said that the classification dealt with different ages.

Mr Rosengarten added that Section 16 of the Constitution that dealt with freedom of expression has been tested. He said that broadcasters could now broadcast with more freedom.

Ms Keene-Young noted that they did not broadcast xxx rated films as they were not allowed to be aired in South Africa.

The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Malusi Gigaba, commented that the manner in which the e.tv presentation had been done, showed attention only to the legal aspects. He wanted to know if e.tv knew what the impact of pornography was on children.

Ms Keene-Young replied that they were unaware of any research that indicated that pornography on television led to an increase in child pornography activities.

The Chairperson felt the attitude displayed by e.tv was one of arrogance.

Daily Voice presentation
Mr Rashid Seria, the Editor of the Daily Voice, introduced himself and noted that the Daily Voice was still a young newspaper. He explained that before the newspaper had been launched, they had done research into what the public and specifically their target audience would want to see in the Daily Voice. He said that they did not consider the newspaper's page three pin-up girl as pornography but rather as nudity.

The Daily Voice submission declared its vehement opposition to child trafficking and pornography. It also considered the meaning of pornography, adult material and what was harmful or disturbing to children and what was offensive or obscene material. It explained the concept of tabloid journalism and the tolerance of the newspaper's target audience to images of partial nudity and to adult content advertisements.

The Chairperson commented that every second page of the Daily Voice’s newspaper had pornographic material. He wanted to know what their understanding of these images were.

Mr Jacques Louw, the Daily Voice's legal representative, replied that when they looked at what was pornographic and what was nudity they looked at what was harmful to children and to society. He said that page three of the newspaper depicted nudity and not pornography. They needed to be clear on what the Committee viewed as pornography as there was clearly a misunderstanding between them on this point. He said that to a conservative Muslim or Christian, the images on page three could be classified as pornography whereas most people were not disturbed by such images. One did not need to look at the picture but could merely turn the page of the newspaper. He said that those pictures were not harmful to children and society.

The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs said that he was deeply perturbed by the submission made by the Daily Voice. He asked if they would allow their daughters or sisters to be a pin-up girl and if they would be prepared to show the newspaper to their children or grandchildren.

The Chairperson said that everyone had access to the newspaper. He felt that the paper should have a warning on it.

Mr Louw replied that the crux of the issue was whether the images were harmful to children. He said that society as a whole and not merely small special interest groups had to determine what was harmful.

The Chairperson commented that Members of Parliament were elected by the people to represent them in Parliament. They therefore had a social responsibility to protect society. The newspaper needed to be aware that these were women that were being indecently exposed.

Mr Seria replied that the Daily Voice was modelling its tabloid journalism according to South African conditions. There was a different approach to the extent of nudity shown in the "country" version of the newspaper as compared to the "city" version of the newspaper. He pointed out that the newspaper was not made up of topless women on every page and that at times they showed images of men and not only of women. He added that the paper was aimed at those who had traditionally not read newspapers previously.

The Chairperson concluded that the Committee would compile a report on the submissions made by both e.tv and the Daily Voice and plot the way forward.

The meeting was adjourned

Appendix 1:
Letter from : Bronwyn Keene-Young: etv Channel Director
To : Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs

30 November 2005

We confirm that etv will make a presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affair at the date and time indicated in your letter. We thank the Committee for giving us the opportunity to deal with the issues and to enable us to clarify what would appear to be numerous misconceptions concerning our attitude to the broadcasting of adult content.

In your letter dated 28 November 2005, you state that the Committee has received "calls and letters from the general public and organisations raising concerns about the spread of pornography that is even exposed to children at an early age, particularly on e.tv channel" To enable us to prepare for the presentation, we request that you provide us with detailed information concerning the calls and letters to which you refer.

At the presentation which e.tv will make before the Committee, we will state that e.tv does not broadcast pornography. While adult content is broadcast on our channel, it is scheduled at a late hour when children do not watch (or ought not to be allowed to watch) television. All such broadcasts are in accordance with all relevant rules relating to the broadcast of adult content on television.

We are concerned about the reference to "child pornography" in your letter and wish to state on record that e.tv does not broadcast child pornography and is totally opposed to child pornography of any sort.

We place on record that we have not yet received a response to the letter from our attorneys addressed to the Chairperson of the Committee regarding statements made by the Chairperson, Mr Patrick Chauke, about e.tv and our CEO on 15 November 2005.

Following numerous reports which appeared after the hearings and in view of statements made by Mr Chauke to the media, our attorneys wrote to Mr Chauke on our behalf expressing our concerns. In this letter, our attorneys requested the Portfolio Committee to make available to us the tape recordings of the proceedings of the Committee on 15 November 2005.

We also invited Mr Chauke to set the record straight regarding the reasons for our absence from the hearings on 15 November 2005 and to deal with the comments apparently made by him that rather than attending the hearings, Mr Golding had gone to the United Kingdom "to buy more pornography intended to pump right into our nation". Neither we nor our attorneys have received a response to this letter.

e.tv would appreciate a response to this letter and to receive the recordings of the proceedings of the hearings of 15 November 2005 in advance of the hearing scheduled for 14 December 2005. It is our intention to set the record straight concerning our absence from the hearings on 15 November 2005. Our non-attendance at the hearings received widespread media publicity which damaged our reputation. Please note that, as this matter has vet to be addressed by the Chairperson, we reserve all our rights in this regard.

Yours sincerely

Bronwyn Keene-Young

Appendix 2: Letter of complaint to Committee on treatment of women in the media

From: Jessica Samson
To: Mr Patrick Chauke

12 December 2005

TREATMENT OF WOMEN IN THE MEDIA: REQUEST FOR APPROPRIATE LEGISLATION

I am writing to you regarding my concern at the manner in which women are presented and treated by the communications media in general, and in particular, the print media in the form of the daily 'Tabloids'.

I refer your attention to my complaint against one of the Tabloids, Kaapse Son, which I originally lodged with the Commission on Gender Equality during last year. The Commission later referred my complaint to the 'self-regulatory' processes of the newspapers and their Press Ombudsman, Mr Ed Linington. My complaint was overruled and on appeal was heard by the Appeal Panel, chaired by retired Judge Edwin King and two other Panel members, who endorsed the decision of the Press Ombudsman.

After having being exposed to the above process, it has become extremely clear to me that there are few avenues available for women to access their Constitutional rights. For this reason, I request that urgent and appropriate legislation be enacted to protect women's rights to be treated with dignity and respect in terms of the Constitution of our country.

I attach some of the documentation relating to my complaint and the decision taken by the Press Ombudsman and Appeal Panel. In addition, I include my letter dated 3 August 2005 to the Commission on Gender Equality wherein I expressed my views regarding the outcome of the above process.

I look forward to your response in this matter.

_________________________________________________________

From: Jessica Samson
To: Danaline Franzman: Acting Head: Legal Department, Commission on Gender Equality

3 August 2005

COMPLAINT AGAINST TABLOID: KAAPSE SON

Please accept my apologies for not responding sooner to your request for copies of the correspondence / documentation relating to the above, but due to a very busy work period and staff being on leave, I was just not able to send this information sooner.

I attach the information as per the attached list for your attention and highlight the following:

1. As you are aware, the Tabloids and newspapers are exempted from the Films and Publications Act and are self-regulated through the processes provided for in the Constitution of the Press Ombudsman and Appeal Panel. Should complaints be made against any newspaper, then we are required to follow this process.

2. Whilst some newspapers have in-house 'Ethical Codes and Guidelines etc', which, according to Kaapse Son and their Attorneys, they strictly adhere to, in practice they regularly violate such codes which include clauses related to gender sensitivity and stereotyping.

3. The Press Ombudsman and the Appeal Panel is guided by the 'Press Code of Professional Practice' in terms of the Constitution of the Press Ombudsman and Appeal Panel. There is no reference to Gender discrimination in this Code. This means that women are not afforded the protection of the Constitution and the rights contained therein.

Apart from taking the matter to the Constitutional Court, women cannot access their human rights with respect to newspapers. It is therefore extremely difficult to rely on this code when submitting a complaint of this nature.

4. During the Appeal Hearing, I .highlighted the serious limitation of the Press Code in respect to the above and the need for the Code to be reviewed. This was mentioned in the comments, attached to the Appeal Judgement and made by Adrian Hadland, who suggested in point no. 11 and 12 that the Code might need to be reviewed by the Founding Bodies. However, the Chairperson seemed to have ignored this suggestion in his decision.

5. Whilst the Son's National Editor, Ingo Capraro, in the presence of all at the Appeal Hearing, indicated his willingness to publish an apology in his newspaper, for ridiculing me in his article in the Kaapse Son of 13 May 2005, no apology was ordered by the Judge in his decision.

6. The treatment afforded to me indicates that attempts to access rights through the Press Ombudsman and the Appeal Panel process will not succeed. It is hard to imagine any other woman being prepared to take up issues of sexism with the newspaper in these circumstances.

7 Notwithstanding the fact that the newspapers are not bound by the Film and Publications Act, clearly the Act and its Guidelines are an expression of public morality and should be persuasive in setting standards of acceptability?

8. No concern was shown to material, which may be harmful or disturbing to children. Here again the Film and Publications Act is relevant because it sets rules and standards in this regard. Why is there no section in the Press Code relating to children?

9. The overwhelming emphasis by both the Press Ombudsman and the Appeal Panel was to protect the newspapers' right to 'freedom of expression'; regardless of any other rights which are protected in the Constitution of South Africa.

10. At the Appeal Hearing, I had no legal assistance, except for two women from our community who played a supportive role by being present. The Son's National Editor, was assisted by his Attorney, who advised him from time to time. Accessing the Ombudsman and Appeal procedure within itself is extremely difficult, as if one is in a formal court of law. The average person will be discouraged or disinclined to lodge a formal complaint?

11. After having gone through this exercise, I am of the view that the entire process is sorely in need of a review and that 'self-regulation' on the part of the newspaper industry, is clearly not working in the interest of the public at large. If the tabloid newspapers refuse to uphold the Constitution, then surely legislation giving expression to women's rights will have to be enacted.

In conclusion, I consider this issue to be an important human rights issue. It affects women's right to non-discriminatory, non-sexist and non-exploitative treatment and more especially, to be treated with dignity and respect, as enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa, and not as 'objectified, commercial commodities.' I would be very interested to know what the role of the Commission on Gender Equality is in respect of an issue of this nature.

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