East Coast Radio hosts Sky Tshabalala, Keri Miller and Darren Maule
Durban - The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) has fined East Coast Radio (ECR) R10 000 after a commissioner found the station’s breakfast show hosts had glamorised dagga use and promoted sexual promiscuity when children could have been listening.

On Wednesday, the station said it would appeal the finding. The BCCSA ruling came after a complaint was made by a listener.

According to the complaint detailed in the commission’s report, the listener was driving her two pre-teen boys to school when the “offending” conversation took place on the air.

“I was shocked to hear the announcers talking about marijuana and sexual partners. One of the announcers wanted to know if in the last six months the (others) had smoked any marijuana.

“The answer was yes. A further question asked was whether they had more than one sexual partner in the last six months. The answer was yes. I then turned off the radio,” read the complaint.

“We live in an open and modern society. However, we try to teach our children basic moral values. Marijuana is illegal in South Africa and here are radio announcers promoting the use thereof.

“What do our children think of the comment of various sexual partners? I am trying to bring my children up with basic moral values and not promiscuous behaviour.”

In its adjudication, the BCCSA commissioner found that listeners should have been warned of the sensitive material being presented so that they would have had an opportunity to decide whether or not to listen.

However, ECR programmes manager Zane Derbyshire said they didn’t think the finding was accurate.

Derbyshire conceded that they should have added a content warning but said ECR was a responsible broadcaster.

He said the segment arose because the station was doing a blood drive on World Blood Donor Day. He said part of the screening when donating blood was a series of questions relating to behaviour in the last six months.

“Darren (Maule), the host of the show, asked those questions of the other members of the team and in the piece there was an acknowledgement of the use of marijuana by Kerry Miller. That was the only reference to marijuana on the entire show. Her answering the question honestly is now being sensationalised by the complainant,” said Derbyshire.

Maule had also put the questions to Sky Tshabalala.

The BCCSA agreed that raising awareness about blood donation was a societal necessity but found the “immature approach in which it was handled, personalising and publicising the sexual habits of its presenters, as well as depicting their alleged substance use can hardly be construed as helpful”.

It also took issue with the breach of the privacy of the presenters questioned. The station has four days to lodge an appeal.

The Mercury