BCCSA enters online space and launches Online Content Services Code of Practice  

The Broadcast Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) has launched a new Online Content Services Code of Conduct (Online Content Code). Licensed broadcasters can elect to become signatories to the new code by submitting their online content services, including streaming and catch-up services, to the jurisdiction of the BCCSA.

Public interest

“The adoption of this code demonstrates the commitment of licensed broadcasters to act in the public interest by ensuring that the BCCSA as an independent administrative tribunal will not only adjudicate complaints concerning traditional radio and TV content, but also online content services of the National Associacion of Broadcasters (NAB) members,” said BCCSA chairperson Sunette Lötter.

“It must be understood that the BCCSA’s Online Content Code is limited to actual content services under the editorial control of NAB members and therefore excludes general content on broadcasters’ websites and any associated social media commentary for example Twitter, Facebook, TikTok etc.”, added Lötter.

Members of the public who believe the code may have been violated can lodge a complaint within 30 days after the date the online content was first made available for delivery to end users. The new Online Content Code, as well as the BCCSA’s complaints procedure, are available on the BCCSA website.

Signing up

Licensed broadcasters who are members of NAB and who provide online content services can sign up immediately to the BCCSA Online Content Code – and can also do so as and when new online content services are launched.

The list of signatories to the code will be made available on the BCCSA website and will be updated regularly.

“As a heavily regulated broadcasting sector that finds itself competing more and more with unregulated online services, our members pride themselves on adhering to codes of conduct toward trust and accountability,” said the chairperson of the NAB, Thabo Makenete.

“Our members have always taken seriously their obligations to adhere to codes of conduct and this Online Content Code should be no different. We are pleased that the public can continue to rely on the BCCSA for independent adjudication of complaints in the online environment as well,” said Makenete.

Since 1995, the BCCSA have administered codes of conduct for broadcasters who are members of the NAB. The BCCSA codes are applicable to free-to-air and subscription broadcasters. Over the last 30 years, the BCCSA have issued various warnings and sanctions against broadcasters who have breached the codes. In addition to providing traditional (linear) broadcasting services, many broadcasters also provide online content services and in November 2022, the NAB adopted an online content code and widened the remit of the BCCSA to administer this new code.

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