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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gareth Cliff gets away with addressing a woman as "Dear Bitch" on air

Channel24 reported that the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) has dismissed a complaint against controversial 5FM presenter Gareth Cliff for calling a woman a "bitch".

They also reported that according to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa's (BCCSA) ruling released on Tuesday the word was used in a "playful and melodramatic manner."

Reports are at it that the 5FM's breakfast show host, addresses a female caller as "Dear Bitch" on June 6, in an attempt to get the woman to call the station back. Nevertheless, the woman, who according to reports was never named on the show, took offence and lodged a complaint with the commission.

Apparently the woman called two days earlier to express her opinion about M-Net's Idols programme. It is also reported that a 5FM representative argued that the woman's dignity had not been impaired as she was not identified. Does that make it okay to use such language on air though? I totally see the representative encouraging aspiring radio presenters who look up to Cliff to use such language and that goes as far as including the BCCSA.

The representative also told the BCCSA tribunal as reported that the incident needed to be seen in the context of broadcasts over three days. Reports furthered that the woman's "aggressive and confrontational style" had resulted in Cliff referring to her as "Dear Bitch" in the same way one would refer to a person being "bitchy".

However they explanation fact remain Cliff addressed the woman as a "bitch' and that does not change the fact that a number of listeners including children needed to be protected from such language were tuned in at the station's breakfast show. Cliff could have apologized or punished by the BCCSA because  if someone is arguing with you or whatever on air you have the power all in your hands to cut such a call.

However, 5FM was cautioned that repetitive use of the word "Bitch" should be discouraged.

Cliff used sensitive language and perpetuated a link between a woman in a sexual context and the BCCSA does not allow this in broadcasting.

The BCCSA does not allow the use of offensive language, including profanity, blasphemy and other religiously insensitive material shall not be used in programmes specially designed for children. The breakfast show might not be designed or targeting children, nevertheless children do listen to radio and such language should have been avoided at all costs. "Specially designed for children" is just an emphasis and such offensive language shall not be used.

By Staff Reporter

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