The Democratic Alliance says that The Sunday Times has admitted to breaking the press code by publishing sponsored content without alerting its readers to this fact.
The content in question was a full page spread in the paper, published on January 28th of this year, which, according to the DA, “contained baseless allegations against the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town and the DA regarding Day Zero and the water crisis the province is currently facing”.
The DA lodged a complaint with the Press Council of South Africa back in back in February and in a statement released today, it says The Sunday Times has admitted it failed to notify its readership that the piece had in fact been paid for by “the Department of Water and Sanitation and by extension the former Minister Nomvula Mokonyane”.
“The Sunday Times has since admitted that it ‘should have alerted [their] readers to the fact that the content was sponsored by an outside party’ and has granted the DA an opportunity for a right of reply,” DA spokeswoman Refiloe Nt’sekhe said.
The DA says that the paper has possibly violated the following four clauses of the Press Code:
- Clause 2.2, which states that: “News shall be presented in context and in a balanced manner, without any intentional or negligent departure from the facts whether by distortion, exaggeration or misrepresentation, material omissions, or summarisation.”
- Clause 2.3 which states: “The media shall indicate clearly when an outside organisation has contributed to the cost of newsgathering.”
- Clause 2.4 which states that: “Editorial material shall be kept clearly distinct from advertising and sponsored content.”
- Clause 3.3 which states that: “The press shall indicate clearly when an outside organisation has contributed to the cost of newsgathering.”
“The media has the responsibility to report and inform the public by always maintaining the highest possible ethical standards. It is, therefore, rather unfortunate that the Sunday Times has found themselves in this peculiar position,” Nt’sekhe said.