17 June 2013
Swaziland’s national radio station has pulled a “sexist” and “offensive” advertisement off the air, according to local media reports.
“The advert, which has been running on the national radio for over a month, was removed after authorities realised it would set a bad precedent despite numerous campaigns by government and non-governmental organisations to discourage gender-based violence,” said the report in the Swazi Observer on June 12 2013.
According to the Observer article, the advert features a man beating up his wife for giving birth to a girl when the father had hoped for a boy. The mother then cries for her life, explaining she didn’t have control over the sex of her baby.
Welile Dlamini, director of Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS), the operator of the radio station, said he didn’t hesitate to pull the advert off the air when he realised it may do more harm than good.
Communications officer at Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA), Maureen Littlejohn, said in the Swazi Observer report that a “state-owned operation such as SBIS should be very vigilant about its advertising clients. A client that wishes to use such negative, harmful messages has no place on the Swazi airwaves”.
Media Institute of Southern Africa Swaziland (MISA-Swaziland) National Director, Vuyisile Hlasthwayo, said the decision to pull the advert shows the need for an independent broadcasting regulator.
“Despite the government claiming to have internal regulatory mechanisms for broadcasting, this case shows their methods are outdated,” said Hlatshwayo. He said the management and staff at the radio station are not free to carry out their work independently. The journalists should be seen more as “information officers” for government, and the management is not always free to question or criticise government — something that a true public broadcaster would be able to do.
The MISA-Swaziland boss also called for the transformation of the state-broadcasters into truly public broadcasters. He noted that an independent regulatory body for broadcasting would be of limited use if the actual broadcasters were not independent.
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