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Kenny vs. Spenny lands another broadcaster in trouble

The adventures of Canadian comedic duo Kenny and Spenny with a rather unfortunate goat has landed a second South African broadcaster in hot water with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA).
Kenny vs. Spenny lands another broadcaster in troubleRadio station 567 Cape Talk was fined R10 000 by the commission for a segment called "The Week that Wasn't" on the Redi Direko show where, according to the BCCSA, "a guest presenter (comedian Nick Rabinowitz) in a programme explicitly describes a bestiality scene from a DStv programme called Kenny vs. Spenny. The guest presenter explicitly describes the sexual scene to the listeners and he even adds his own words of encouragement for the goat to take the person on."

Not limited to visual scenes


The BCCSA has chosen to interpret the words "scene or scenes" that prohibits the depiction of explicit violent sexual conduct, bestiality, etc. as not limited to visual scenes. According to the BCCSA "a description of bestiality could constitute a contravention of clause 28 (of the Broadcasting code)."

567 Cape Talk had submitted that the show was "a satirical [not a word the BCCSA likes] review of the news stories of the week as seen by a stand-up comedian. 567 Cape Talk's audience is sophisticated adults who understand satire for what it is."

The station argued that "a reasonable 567 Cape Talk listener would have understood the broadcast in question as a satirical take of what was topical in that week."

The BCCSA regularly finds against comedians satirising societal taboos around issues such as sex or religion. It recently found John Vlismas guilty of hate speech after he contravened the BCCSA's rather subjective view on the "bounds of humour." In 2002 it fined 5FM R17 500 after the station aired the line "Stupid people have stupid children. If you're stupid, please don't have sex! If you insist on having sex then please have sex with animals, preferably animals smarter than you are."

"Crossed the line"


In its decision on the 567 Cape Talk case, the BCCSA again found that "this satire has crossed the line." That would be the line drawn by the BCCSA as to what is funny and what isn't.

"The airwaves belong to the public (res publicae) and freedoms which might, in a pub show or exclusive public performance, be acceptable as part of comedy, simply do not fit on the airwaves. They do not fit because they blatantly flaunt an act which is abhorrent for public consumption on the airwaves," the BCCSA judgement rules.

"...[W]hen dealing with bestiality it should be borne in mind that one is within 'forbidden waters' and that the word "explicit" is not even added as a requirement in clause 28 in so far as bestiality is concerned. Of course context is important, but the fact remains that the details broadcast amount to a description of bestiality which falls within the definition."

Earlier this year, DStv, which aired the Kenny vs Spenny episode in question on its Animax channel, was let off the hook after the BCCSA accepted its explanation that it "merely relayed the signal it received from the overseas broadcaster to its subscribers and was not aware of the exact content of the broadcast".

Animax chanel terminated


The broadcaster has since announced that it was terminating broadcast of the Animax channel, effective 31 October 2010. "Each channel on the DStv platform has a pre-benchmarked audience expectation share within the genre; MultiChoice regularly conducts research into subscribers' viewership levels and enjoyment ratings," the channel said in a statement announcing its decision.

"Although the Japanese animation (animé) programming that featured on ANIMAX over the past three years was enjoyed by animé fans, this genre did not attract the broad viewing audience that MultiChoice had targeted."

A new channel from Sony Pictures Television, that will focus on live action and reality entertainment, is due to launch in February 2011 in its place.

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About Herman Manson: @marklives

The inaugural Vodacom Social Media Journalist of the Year in 2011, Herman Manson (@marklives) is a business journalist and media commentator who edits industry news site www.marklives.com. His writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines locally and abroad, including Bizcommunity.com. He also co-founded Brand magazine.
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