After 16 years of litigation, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies has withdrawn its complaint against Radio 786. The case arose from a programme featuring historian Dr Yakub Zaki in which he made comments on the subject of the founding of Israel during the 50th anniversary of the country.
The Board of Deputies said the Islamic Unity Convention, which holds the licence for Radio 786, should be held accountable for Zaki’s comments but Radio 786 said his ideas and comments were solely his own and never reflected the position of, or any endorsement by it or Radio 786.
In a statement, Radio 786 said it decided to fight the legal action by the Board of Deputies “not because it wished to defend the objectionable words or ideas of a single guest, but because it knew that the only course for free media in a free society is to take the high ground of principle when it comes to speech and broadcast rights”.
“In this case, that meant holding the line on the freedom of broadcasters to air even those opinions we may find abhorrent or upsetting, without fear of impingement upon that freedom by interest groups, business, individuals or the state. We remain convinced that it was the correct thing to do, and this settlement vindicates our decision 16 years ago,” the IUC spokesman said.
The case has now been settled. Under the terms of the settlement, Radio 786 acknowledges that while its broadcast may have caused “offence and distress to members of the South African Jewish community”, the radio station in no way ever intended such a result, and the parties agree to move on from this episode.
“With this settlement, Radio 786 rededicates itself to the responsibility of serving the community and providing the very best reporting and coverage on society, politics, economics, education, and labour,” it said, adding that it believes this represents a victory for the entire media fraternity in South Africa.
IMAGE: Radio 786 Facebook.