National Consumer Commission vs Business Day

Complainant: National Consumer Commission

Article: Another notice by consumer watchdog binned, and Consumer Tribunal dismisses Auction Alliance case

Date: 6 August 2012

Respondent: Business Day

Complaint

The NCC complains about two stories in Business Day on 22 and 27 June 2012 respectively. They were headlined Another notice by consumer watchdog binned, and Consumer Tribunal dismisses Auction Alliance case.

The NCC complains that in both cases the journalist did not consult the Commission prior to publication.

Analysis

The stories, written by Amanda Visser, were about the National Consumer Tribunal setting aside the NCC’s compliance notice to Vodacom.

The core of the NCC’s complaint is that Visser neglected to ask the Commission for comment and argues that it was unfair of her to only have sought and reported Vodacom’s views on the matter.

Business Day argues that the stories were about a ruling that the Consumer Tribunal made against the NCC and states: “Nowhere in the Press Code, the law or tradition are the parties to a legal case routinely consulted after winning or losing…”

The newspaper is correct – in this case the newspaper was under no obligation to ask the NCC for comment. The fact that Visser got Vodacom’s comment still did not oblige her to get the NCC’s views, although it would have been better if she did.

Finding
The complaint is dismissed.
Appeal

Please note that our Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven days of receipt of this decision, either party may apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Appeals Panel, Judge Ralph Zulman, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.

Johan Retief
Deputy Press Ombudsman