Whilst in most democratic societies freedom of expression is recognised as being absolutely
central to democracy, in no country is freedom of expression absolute. Like all rights
freedom of expression is subject to limitation under section 36 of the Constitution.


The outcome of disputes turning on the guarantee of freedom of expression will depend
upon the value the courts are prepared to place on that freedom and the extent to which
they will be inclined to subordinate other rights and interests to free expression. Rights of
free expression will have to be weighed up against many other rights, including the rights to
equality, dignity, privacy, political campaigning, fair trial, economic activity, workplace
democracy, property and most significantly the rights of children and women.


In the period prior to the transition to democracy, governmental processes neither required
nor welcomed the adjuncts of free expression and critical discussion and our country did not
treasure at its core a democratic ideal. The right to freedom of expression was regularly
violated with impunity by the legislature and the executive. Therefore the protection of this
right is of paramount importance now that South Africa is grappling with the process of
purging itself of those laws and practices from our past which do not accord with the values
which underpin the Constitution.
Application of the Code


All licensees are required to ensure that all broadcasts comply with this Code and are
further required to satisfy the Authority that they have adequate procedures to fulfil this
requirement. All licensees should ensure that relevant employees and programme-makers,
including those from whom they commission programmes, understand the Code's contents
and significance. All licensees should also have in place procedures for ensuring that
programme-makers can seek guidance on the Code within the licensee's organisation at a
senior level.


While the Authority is responsible for drafting this Code of Conduct and for monitoring
compliance therewith, independent producers or others supplying programme material
should seek guidance on specific proposals from the relevant licensee.


Under the Act, the Authority has the power to impose sanctions, including fines, on
licensees who do not comply with this Code of Conduct.


This Code does not attempt to cover the full range of programme matters with which the
Authority and licensees are concerned. This is not because such matters are insignificant,
but because they have not given rise to the need for Authority guidance. The Code is
therefore not a complete guide to good practice in every situation. Nor is it necessarily the
last word on the matters to which it refers. Views and attitudes change, and any prescription
for what is required of those who make and provide programmes may be incomplete and
may sooner or later become outdated. The Code is subject to interpretation in the light of
changing circumstances, and in some matters it may be necessary, from time to time, to
introduce fresh requirements.


In drawing up this Code the Authority has taken into account the objectives of the Act and
the urgent need in South Africa for the fundamental values which underlie our legal system
to accommodate to the norms and principles which are embraced by our Constitution.


Licensees shall not broadcast any material which judged within context:- (i) contains
gratuitous violence in any form i.e. violence which does not play an integral role in
developing the plot, character or theme of the material as a whole.

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