The M-Net dish in Randburg. The pay channel has been fined for airing an advert for a horror movie festival during family viewing time. Photo: Nonhlanhla Kambule-Makgati

Johannesburg - The broadcasting complaints commission of South Africa (BCCSA) handed down a fine to broadcaster M-Net on Wednesday for broadcasting graphic scenes of violence and horror during family viewing time.

“The Registrar received complaints regarding the broadcast of a promotional video for a 'horror festival' of films to be screened on M-Net,” the BCCSA said in a statement.

The hearing was held on Monday and M-Net was fined R5 000 for contravening Clause 12 of the Subscription Code.

The clause stipulates that a broadcasting service licensee must avoid broadcasting programming material which is unsuitable for children and/or contains nudity, explicit sexual conduct, violence or offensive language before the watershed period.

The BCCSA received complaints from three separate parties.

One complainant said “during an advertisement break on October 13 at about 6pm M-Net advertised a horror festival and showed the most horrific cuts” from the different movies.

Another complainant asked: “How do I explain to a five-year old the stuff she saw - a child sitting in front of a television and something coming out of the TV and grabbing her or the lady in the shower washing her hair and then there’s a hand in her hair coming out of her head?”

M-Net apologised for screening the advert at that hour saying the move was as a result of an internal error.

“The promo contains scenes from several horror titles. After viewing the promo, our internal classification team issued a directive that the promo should only be scheduled after 9.30pm.

“The broadcast of the promo at 6pm on October 13 was a result of an error by the promo scheduler who did not adhere to the internal directive.”

The BCCSA ruled that the advertisement contained graphic scenes of violence and horror “and other inexplicable scenes of horror”.

It said children would be negatively affected by such images.

“Most children would, as alleged, be severely disturbed by such images, since they do not have the cognitive ability to process them, or a frame of reference within which to locate them and perhaps make sense of them.”

“The negative emotional and psychological effect of such images would thus be exacerbated, and such effects could even be permanent,” the BCCSA said. - Sapa