Banned ad on SABC. 261112 Picture: YouTube

Cape Town - The SABC has denied it pulled a TV advert which referenced president Jacob Zuma, his family and his Nkandla residence because it is offensive.

Instead, the public broadcaster said it was concerned about whether the company that placed the ad had consulted the Zuma family before using their likeness to endorse its product.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said the broadcaster would have been “opening [itself] up for liability” had it gone ahead with broadcasting the ad.

“The SABC reserves the right to exercise editorial control over all content, as per our trading terms, licence conditions and public broadcast mandate,” the SABC said in a statement

“We are of the view that the advert implied an endorsement of the product sold by the Fish & Chip Company. In line with SABC trading terms and conditions, material for broadcasting a television advert must be received five working days before broadcast, therefore allowing the SABC an opportunity to do all the technical and quality checks and reviews as required.”

The animated advert starts off with the words “dinner time at Nkandla” that appear over an image of a mansion. The next frame is indoors. A woman, seated at one end of a an extremely long dining-room table lined on both sides by children and other women, says: “Oh Zuzulicious, we’re having fish and chips from Shabba today.”

The huge family tucks into a dinner of fish and chips. An animated Zuma responds: “Eat up, honeybunch, there is a lot of good food here. It’s from The Fish & Chip Company. There are many of you in this house. At only R25, even Pravin will approve this.”

Speaking to the Cape Argus on Tuesday, Carlo Gonzaga, chief executive at Taste Holdings, which placed the advert, said he had heard more in the media about the SABC’s reasons for pulling the ad than from the broadcaster itself. Press reports on Tuesday alleged that the SABC had found the advert offensive.

“It may be many things – it certainly is funny and socially relevant at the present time. But offensive? No, I don’t think so. It doesn’t promote [any type of discrimination]. I think the majority of South Africans would agree with me on this,” Gonzaga said.

He explained that a booking to place the advert with the SABC had been made last Friday afternoon. It was scheduled to be aired for the first time on Monday evening.

“Since then the communication from the SABC to us has been dismal. When we had not received the flighting codes by Monday, we decided to phone the SABC. Someone in a junior position at the broadcaster explained to us that a decision to pull the ad had been made,” said Gonzaga.

“From a business perspective this is massively disappointing. This wasn’t a publicity stunt, our entire Christmas campaign is based on this advert.”

Gonzaga took issue with the fact that the SABC issued a press statement before engaging with Taste Holdings. He said the company would make attempts to call a meeting with the broadcaster, but would not comment further.

Mark Weinberg, national co-ordinator of the Right2Know campaign, conceded that the broadcaster’s decision made sense and was based on “legitimate grounds”.

“I still believe that the SABC should in general learn to trust the public with satire. But in this case they make a strong legal case for having pulled the ad,” he said.

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Cape Argus