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702 complaint not upheld: BCCSA

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A complaint that Talk Radio 702 incorrectly described a case as one of xenophobia has been rejected, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) said on Wednesday.

A listener complained about a broadcast concerning an attack on someone in Mayfair, Johannesburg, described by 702 as an Ethiopian. However, the complainant argued that the victim was South African.

The complainant lived in the area where the attack happened and believed the broadcaster’s error could adversely affect inter-racial relations in the area.

Talk Radio 702’s Eyewitness News published the article about the stoning death of an Ethiopian man in Mayfair on its website on December 9 and the radio station broadcast the news story a number of times.

“Despite several tweets to John Robbie of 702 and even an sms message to the station as well as a comment on the EWN website correcting this misimpression, the news broadcasts continued and John Robbie persisted with the suggestion that this was a xenophobic attack on his show between 6 and 9am on Wednesday the 10th of December 2014,” the complainant said.

“The 702 switchboard refused to put me through to John Robbie when I called in, stating that two callers had already raised the issue when nobody had.”

Talk Radio 702 said the EWN newsroom had received information about the attack.

The reporter confirmed the incident with a representative of the Ethiopian/Somali group fighting against xenophobia, as well as the SA Police Service provincial spokesperson who confirmed that a case of murder had been opened.

At that point EWN believed that the victim’s nationality was Ethiopian.

According to the broadcaster, in the process of doing follow-ups on the story the police could no longer confirm or deny the nationality of the victim.

“We reiterate that at the time of the report we had no doubt that the victim was of Ethiopian descent,” it said.

“We therefore respectfully submit that at no point did the news item conclusively indicate this was a xenophobic attack.”

The BCCSA said it was not convinced that the radio station acted negligently, even though the complainant’s information was closer to the truth than what was broadcast.

“We have come to the conclusion that it would be utterly unfair, within the normative theory of fault, to hold the respondent [702] responsible for what happened,” it found. SAPA


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