The controversial and biased "Guptanews" channel ANN7 (DStv 405) on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform has been slapped with the highest possible fine of R80 000 by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) for its shocking and slanderous coverage, and ordered to apologise to the ANC politician Jackson Mthembu.
The BCCSA slammed the now Mzwanele Manyi-owned ANN7 for blatant political sabotage after Jackson Mthembu, the chief whip of the ANC political party, lodged a complaint at ANN7 for staging a bogus "press conference" with 6 ANC members of parliament.
The sham "press conference" on 27 November 2017 where no questions were even asked, organised and attended by ANN7 only, was hatched between the 6 politicians and ANN7, with the BCCSA that found ANN7 guilty of blatantly intending "to sabotage the complainant's political career".
The shockingly trash ANN7 that MultiChoice is finally shutting down by the end of July didn't give Jackson Mthembu a chance to respond to the slanderous allegations made against him. The news report was repeated during the day and also during the next day, 28 November. The news report was also posted on YouTube by ANN7.
ANN7's Cecilia Russel, special projects editor, and ANN7 editor Abhinav Sahay told the BCCSA that "ANN7 regrets not affording the ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu a right of reply before airing the story of 6 ANC MPs opposing the parliamentary debate on State Capture".
Shockingly, ANN7 had the audacity to tell the BCCSA that "ANN7 was not lax in either urgency or intent to mitigate any possible harm which could have been caused to Jackson Mthembu's reputation immediately after the matter was brought to its notice on the morning of the 29th of November 2017. The station is of the view that the steps taken mitigated any possible harm caused".
Hilariously ANN7 told the BCCSA that "the fact that there were no other broadcasters or news media present at the news conference was not relevant". When the BCCSA asked ANN7 to produce the press invitation to the "press conference" ANN7 said it didn't have anything.
The BCCSA slammed ANN7, saying "it is unthinkable that the staff of ANN7 who produced, edited and broadcast this programme on their TV channel was ignorant of the right to reply and was not aware that their broadcast was in violation of this right and in contravention of the Code of Conduct".
"The fact that they repeated this pre-recorded programme the next day aggravates this contravention. The same can be said of the fact that they posted this programme on You Tube. It seems as if they were intent on causing maximum damage to the Complainant."
"It was only when the Complainant posted a comment on this broadcast on his Facebook and Twitter accounts on 29 November that the broadcasts were discontinued."
The BCCSA also slammed ANN7 for its sham "press conference" argument, finding that "by no stretch of the imagination could this then be regarded as a news conference. The corollary of this conclusion is that we are not dealing here with a bona fide press conference, but rather with a private meeting set up between the six MP’s and ANN7".
The BCCSA slammed ANN7 in its judgment, saying ANN7 clearly intended to defame Jackson Mthembu.
"Despite the Broadcaster’s denial that there was any intention to defame the complainant with the so-called news conference and the broadcasting thereof, we find, on a balance of probabilities, that the broadcaster and the six MP’s colluded in setting up a meeting and staging a press conference, the outcome of which was broadcast in the guise of a news broadcast."
"The purpose of this broadcast was clearly to defame the complainant and to jeopardise his political career. We can therefore not accept that ANN7's failure to grant a right to reply to the complainant was an oversight or a mere mistake. This was clearly all part of ANN7's intention to defame the complainant."
"In this instance we are dealing with a news programme in which not only pure news is broadcast, but where a long tirade is broadcast as part of a broadcast of a so-called news conference. In the tirade, quite a few minutes of broadcasting time is spent on defaming the complainant."
The BCCSA found that ANN7 deliberately misled DStv subscribers.
"ANN7 was broadcasting something out of context, thus misleading the viewing public. It was also not done in a fair manner because we have found that the so-called press conference was actually a meeting set up between the Broadcaster and the six MP’s and it was unfair to pretend that it was a bona fide press conference."
The BCCSA slammed ANN7 for committing "one of the most serious contraventions" of the Broadcasting Code.
"We agreed that this was one of the most serious contraventions that we have had to decide on. The fact that this pre-recorded news broadcast was repeated during the day of 27th November and the following day, aggravates this contravention."
"ANN7 was not forthcoming when dealing with the serious allegations against it. Although it admitted a contravention by not granting the complainant a right of reply, it persisted in its denial of a sham with the so-called press conference."
"The fact that the “press conference” and the broadcasting thereof was done in bad faith, are aggravating circumstances, justifying a maximum fine of R80 000."
"We have also decided that the contraventions of the Code warrant an order for the broadcasting of an apology to the complainant."