Cyril Chetty vs Soweto

Complainant: Cyril Chetty

Lodged by: Cyril Chetty

Article: Boss in Capricorn FM controversy

Author of article: Mashoto Lekgau

Date: 9 February 2014

Respondent: Sowetan

Complaint

Chetty complains about a story headlined Boss in Capricorn FM controversy, published in Sowetan of 18 December 2013.

He complains that the:

  • story inaccurately stated that he had broken radio station rules; and
  • headline was inaccurate, unfair and malicious, and that it unnecessarily has harmed his reputation.

The text

The story, written by Mashoto Lekgau, said that some Capricorn FM presenters were unhappy that Chetty was booking three of the station’s DJs for private events. One “insider” at the station reportedly said: “You cannot manage artists from the station you run. It is a conflict of interest. This will compromise the other presenters when it is time to shuffle radio slots… The other presenters are unhappy with this favouritism.”

Lekgau also quoted Chetty as having denied any conflict of interest, as well as MSG Afrika chief executive Given Mkhari, saying that there would be no disciplinary action taken against Chetty “as he had not broken any rules”.

Analysis

Chetty says that he explained the situation to Lekgau prior to publication, yet the reporter was “deliberately on a course to assassinate my character at all cost by labelling me as a controversial boss”. He also states that the story was based on hearsay and unnamed sources. He is also dissatisfied with the headline, which stated that he was involved in a controversy.

Sowetan denies any kind of malice. It adds that the story satisfactorily presented Chetty’s views on the matter, and quoted a reliable source that he had not broken any rules. The newspaper defends its reportage “as it is true that there is unhappiness internally at the station over Mr Chetty acting as manager for some of the DJs on the station”. It states that it was confident in its sources, “which we will not reveal”.

The newspaper argues that the headline was justified, as it merely referred to the unhappiness about the matter at the station, some of whom did not approve of Chetty’s actions.

I submit that the newspaper’s arguments are all sound, because:

  • it is true that there was a controversy – in which Chetty was involved;
  • the story did not say that he was guilty – it merely recorded the views of some of the people at the station;
  • these people had the right to their opinion, whether they were correct or not; likewise, the newspaper was justified in reporting those views; and
  • the story presented Chetty’s views on the matter, as well as that of Mkhari.

I have no evidence that there was any malice involved, and also do not believe that the newspaper was witch-hunting Chetty.

In summary, Sowetan squarely stayed within the boundaries of the Press Code, giving me no reason whatsoever to find that it was in breach of any section of that Code.

Finding

The complaint is dismissed.

Appeal

Our Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven working days of receipt of this decision, either party may apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Adjudication Panel, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.

Johan Retief

Press Ombudsman

 

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