All members of the media have a duty to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards. This code sets the benchmarks for those standards. It both protects the rights of the individual and upholds the public's right to know.
The code is the cornerstone of the system of self-regulation to which the industry has made a binding commitment. Editors, publishers and broadcasters must ensure that the code is observed rigorously not only by their staff but also by anyone who contributes to their publications or broadcasts.
It is essential to the workings of an agreed code that it be honoured not only to the letter but in the full spirit. The code should not be interpreted so narrowly as to compromise its commitment to respect the rights of the individual, nor so broadly that it prevents publication or broadcasting in the public interest.
It is the responsibility of editors to co-operate with the Press Ombudman as swiftly as possible in the resolution of complaints.
Any publication or broadcaster which is criticised by the Press Ombudsman under one of the following clauses must print or broadcast the adjudication which follows in full and with due prominence.
1. Accurate Reporting
1.1 The media shall be obliged to report news accurately without distorting the facts.
1.2 Every journalist is encouraged to engage in investigative journalism in the National interest and for the public good.
1.3 Where there is reason to doubt the correctness of a report and it is practical to verify the correctness thereof, it shall be verified. When such verification is not practical, that fact shall be stated in the report.
1.4 Every journalist shall use all reasonable means within his/her power to ascertain prior to publication or broadcast, the veracity of the contents of any article written by him/her for publication or broadcast.
1.5 He/She shall refrain from reporting or causing to be printed, published or broadcast any matter, which he/she knows or has reason to believe to be false or inaccurate.
1.6 A newspaper or broadcaster must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party.
Where it subsequently appears to the Editor that a report was incorrect in a material respect, it shall be rectified forthwith, without reservation or delay. The rectification should be presented with such a degree of prominence and timing as may be adequate and fair so as to readily attract attention.
3. Right of Reply
3.1 Provisions should be made for a right of reply to an aggrieved party, to protect an individual against factually incorrect statements that endanger respect for their reputation, dignity, honour, feelings and privacy and their office. The reply should be confined to the aggrieved person’s version of the facts and should not be longer than is necessary to correct the alleged inaccuracy or distortion.
3.2 Newspapers, broadcasters or journalists are entitled to respond to a Right of Reply in so far as to apologise and/or regret the error or stand by the story, provided however that the aggrieved party be given sufficient opportunity to counter the response of the newspaper, broadcaster or journalist.
4. Conflict of Interest
The profit motive should not override media freedom, social responsibility and editorial freedom.
Every journalist shall observe secrecy regarding any source of information and has a moral obligation to protect sources unless the person who gave him such information authorises the disclosure of his identity.
6. General Reporting
6.1 The media should strive to represent social reality in all it’s diversity, complexity and plurality, and shall strive to recognise the sensitivities of women, children, minorities, the under privileged and differently abled persons.
6.2 The media should not without due care and sensitivity, present facts, opinions, photographs, graphics or scenes which depicts or relates to brutality, sadism, salacity, violence, atrocity, drug abuse and obscenity except in the public interest.
6.3 In reporting or causing to be printed or broadcasted accounts of crimes or criminal cases, a journalist shall not –
i. identify victims of sex crimes;
ii. identify any young person accused of a criminal offence who to his knowledge is below the age of sixteen and to his knowledge is a person who has no previous convictions; or
iii. identify any person as being a relative of a person accused or convicted of a crime for the sole purpose of informing the reader or viewer of the relationship between the person so named, and the person charged, unless the public interest would be served by the publication or broadcast of the said matter.
6.4 A journalist shall not commit plagiarism.
6.5 A journalist shall not promote communal or religious discord or violence.
6.6 The media must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to a person’s race, colour, religion, sex, sexual preference or to any physical or mental illness or disability.
6.7 It must avoid publishing or broadcasting details of a person’s race, caste, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability unless these are directly relevant to the story.
6.8 Even where the law does not prohibit it, journalists must not use for their own profit financial information they receive in advance of its general publication or broadcast, nor should they pass such information for the profit of others.
6.9 They must not write about or broadcast shares or securities in whose performance they know that they or their close families have a significant financial interest, without disclosing the interest to the broadcaster, publisher, editor or financial editor.
6.10 Whilst a journalist is entitled to have his own political and other opinions, the newspaper or broadcaster must recognise and give due consideration to the opinions of others in the community.
Insofar as both news and comment are concerned, the media shall exercise exceptional care and consideration in matters involving the private lives and concerns of individuals, bearing in mind that the right to privacy may be overridden by a legitimate public interest.
Journalists including photo-journalists must neither obtain nor seek to obtain information or pictures through intimidation or harassment.
9. Intrusion into grief or shock
In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries should be carried out and approaches made with sympathy and discretion. Publication or broadcast must be handled sensitively at such times but this should not be interpreted as restricting the right to report judicial proceedings.
10. Listening Devices*
Journalists must not obtain and publish or broadcast material obtained by using clandestine listening devices, secret filming or by intercepting private telephone conversations.
i) Journalists must not generally obtain or seek to obtain information through misrepresentation or subterfuge.
ii) Documents, photographs or video material should be removed only with the consent of the owner.
iii) Subterfuge can be justified only in the public interest and only when material cannot be obtained by any other means.
Every journalist shall safeguard the dignity of his profession.
13. Payment for articles*
i) Payment or offers of payment for stories or information must not be made directly or through agents to witnesses or potential witnesses in current criminal proceedings except where the material concerned ought to be published or broadcast in the public interest and there is an overriding need to make or promise to make a payment for this to be done. Journalists must take every possible step to ensure that no financial dealings have influence on the evidence that those witnesses may give. (An editor authorising such a payment must be prepared to demonstrate that there is a legitimate public interest at stake involving matters that the public has a right to know. The payment or, where accepted, the offer of payment to any witness who is actually cited to give evidence should be disclosed to the prosecution and the defence and the witness should be advised of this).
(ii) Payment or offers of payment for video material, stories, pictures or information, must not be made directly or through agents to convicted or confessed criminals or to their associates – who may include family, friends and colleagues – except where the material concerned ought to be published in the public interest and payment is necessary for this to be done.
iii) Journalists should not accept excessive gifts or freebies where it could compromise professional accountability
14. The public interest
There may be exceptions to the clauses marked * where they can be demonstrated to be in the public interest.
1. The public interest includes:
i) Detecting or exposing crime or a serious misdemeanour.
ii) Protecting public health and safety.
iii) Preventing the public from being misled by some statement or action of an individual or organisation.
2. In any case where the public interest is invoked, the Press Ombudsman will require a full explanation by the editor demonstrating how the public interest was served.
3. There is a public interest in freedom of expression itself. The Press Ombudsman will therefore have regard to the extent to which material has, or is about to, become available to the public.
4. In cases involving children editors must demonstrate an exceptional public interest to over-ride the normally paramount interest of the child
ADDENDUM TO THE NAMIBIAN CODE OF ETHICS FOR ELECTRONIC MEDIA
"Audience" as referred to in this Code means a visual and an aural audience i.e. both television and radio audiences. "Broadcasts intended for adult audiences" as referred to in this Code means broadcasts depicting excessive violence and explicit sexual conduct and shall exclude broadcasts intended for children. "Children" as referred to in this Code means those persons below 16 years. "Watershed period" as referred to in this Code means the period between 22h00 and 05h00. Such restriction applies only to television services.
Licensees shall not broadcast any material which judged within context:-
(i) contains gratuitous violence in any form i.e. violence which does not play an integral role in developing the plot, character or theme of the material as a whole.
(ii) sanctions, promotes or glamorises violence.
1.1 Violence against women
(i) not broadcast material which, judged within context, sanctions, promotes or glamorises any aspect of violence against women ;
(ii) ensure that women are not depicted as victims of violence unless the violence is integral to the story being told;
(iii) be particularly sensitive not to perpetuate the link between women in a sexual context and women as victims of violence.
1.2 Violence against specific groups
1.2.1 Licensees shall not broadcast material which, judged within context sanctions, promotes or glamorises violence based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or mental or physical disability.
1.2.2 Licensees are reminded generally of the possible dangers of some people imitating violence details of which they see, hear or read about.
The abovementioned prohibitions shall not apply to –
(i) a bona fide scientific, documentary, dramatic, artistic, or religious broadcast, which judged within context, is of such nature;
(ii) broadcasts which amount to discussion, argument or opinion on a matter pertaining to religion, belief or conscience; or
(iii) broadcasts which amount to a bona fide discussion, argument or opinion on a matter of public interest.
Broadcasters are reminded that children embraces a wide range of maturity and sophistication, and in interpreting this Code it is legitimate for licensees to distinguish, if appropriate those approaching adulthood from a much younger, pre-teenage audience.
2.1 Broadcasters shall not broadcast material unsuitable for children at times when large numbers of children may be expected to be part of the audience.
2.2 Broadcasters shall exercise particular caution, as provided below, in the depiction of violence in children's programming.
2.3 In children's programming portrayed by real-life characters, violence shall, whether physical, verbal or emotional, only be portrayed when it is essential to the development of a character and plot.
2.4 Animated programming for children, while accepted as a stylised form of story-telling which can contain non-realistic violence, shall not have violence as its central theme, and shall not invite dangerous imitation.
2.5 Programming for children shall with due care deal with themes which could threaten their sense of security, when portraying, for example, domestic conflict, death, crime or the use of drugs.
2.6 Programming for children shall with due care deal with themes which could invite children to imitate acts which they see on screen or hear about, such as the use of plastic bags as toys, use of matches, the use of dangerous household products as playthings, or other dangerous physical acts.
2.7 Programming for children shall not contain realistic scenes of violence which create the impression that violence is the preferred or only method to resolve conflict between individuals.
2.8 Programming for children shall not contain realistic scenes of violence which minimise or gloss over the effect of violent acts. Any realistic depictions of violence shall portray, in human terms, the consequences of that violence to its victims and its perpetrators.
2.9 Programming for children shall not contain frightening or otherwise excessive special effects not required by the story line.
3. WATERSHED PERIOD
3.1 Programming on television which contains scenes of violence, sexually explicit conduct and/or offensive language intended for adult audiences shall not be broadcast before the watershed period.
3.2 Promotional material and music videos which contain scenes of violence, sexually explicit conduct and/or offensive language intended for adult audiences shall not be broadcast before the watershed period.
3.3 Some programmes broadcast outside the watershed period will not be suitable for very young children. Licensees should provide sufficient information, in terms of regular scheduling patterns or on-air advice, to assist parents to make appropriate viewing choices.
3.4 Licensees shall be aware that with the advance of the watershed period progressively less suitable (i.e. more adult) material may be shown and it may be that a programme will be acceptable for example at 23h00 that would not be suitable at 21h00.
3.5 Broadcasters must be particularly sensitive to the likelihood that programmes which start during the watershed period and which run beyond it may then be viewed by children.
4. SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES
Where a programme service is only available to viewers on subscription and offers a parental control mechanism, its availability to children may be more restricted and the watershed period may begin at 20h00.
5.1 Offensive language, including profanity, blasphemy and other religiously insensitive material shall not be used in programmes.
5.2 No excessively and grossly offensive language should be used before the watershed period on television or at times when large numbers of children are likely to be part of the audience on television or radio. Its use during the periods referred to above should, where practical, be approved in advance by the licensee's most senior programme executive or the designated alternate.
6. SEXUAL CONDUCT
6.1 Licensees shall not broadcast material, which judged within context, contains a scene or scenes, simulated or real of any of the following:
(i) A person who is, or is depicted as being under the age of 16 years, participating in, engaging in or assisting another person to engage in sexual conduct or a lewd display of nudity;
(ii) Explicit violent sexual conduct;
(iv) Explicit sexual conduct which degrades a person in the sense that it advocates a particular form of hatred based on gender, sexual orientation and which constitutes incitement to cause harm; or
6.2 The prohibition in 6.1.(i) to (iv) shall not be applicable to bona fide scientific, documentary, dramatic material, which judged within context, is of such a nature. The prohibition in 6.1(i), shall however be applicable to artistic material which judged within context, is of such a nature.
6.3 Scenes depicting sexual conduct, should be broadcast only during the watershed period. Exceptions to this may be allowed in programmes with a serious educational purpose or where the representation is non-explicit and should be approved in advance by the most senior programme executive or a delegated alternate.
6.4 Explicit portrayal of violent sexual behaviour is justifiable only exceptionally and the same approval process as referred to above must be followed.
7. AUDIENCE ADVISORIES
To assist audiences in choosing programmes, licensees shall provide advisory assistance, which when applicable shall include guidelines as to age, at the beginning of broadcasts and wherever necessary, where such broadcasts contain violence, sexual conduct and/or offensive language.
8. CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
8.1 In presenting a programme in which controversial issues of public importance are discussed, a licensee shall make reasonable efforts to fairly present opposing points of view either in the same programme or in a subsequent programme forming part of the same series of programmes presented within a reasonable period of time of the original broadcast and within substantially the same time slot.
8.2 A person whose views are to be criticised in a broadcasting programme on a controversial issue of public importance shall be given a right to reply to such criticism on the same programme. If this is impractical however, opportunity for response to the programme should be provided where appropriate, for example in a right to reply programme or in a pre-arranged discussion programme with the prior consent of the person concerned.