M-Net responds to Gareth Cliff lawsuit

Written by TVSA Team from the blog M-Net on 23 Jan 2016
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M-Net has issued an answering affidavit and accompanying media statement in response to Gareth Cliff's lawsuit against them.

This is a summary, followed by the full document:

Summary of Answering Affidavit for media release

M-Net and its producer of Idols South Africa have submitted their answering affidavit opposing Gareth Cliff's urgent application for his reinstatement as an Idols SA judge, his attempt to prevent auditions continuing without his involvement as a judge, and his request to prevent M-Net from making statements about Cliff that infringe his rights.

The following is a summary of our position:

- Cliff's tweet on 4 January 2016 saying people do not understand free speech, was posted only days after Penny Sparrow's tweet and in the middle of a furious and intensifying debate on racism in South Africa. Whether intended or not, the tweet was widely perceived to be in defence of Sparrow's right to make racist and derogatory statements.

- The negative comments on social media created anger and division amongst South Africans. Consequently, M-Net decided to review its decision to include Cliff as a judge in the upcoming Idols SA season in order to protect its brand.

- A meeting was held with Cliff on 8 January 2016 where it was explained to him that in light of his recent statements, M-Net had taken the decision to no longer include him as a judge on the show. In the interests of preserving an amicable relationship with him, he was offered the opportunity to issue a joint statement with M-Net in order to voluntarily step down from the show, which he declined. M-Net issued its own statement later that night informing the public of its decision.

- M-Net argues that while it had started negotiations with Cliff for the 2016 season, these negotiations were never finalised. Thus no contract for the current season was concluded with Cliff. Alternatively, even if such a contract was concluded (which is denied), M-Net argues that it was entitled to terminate the contract as it has the sole discretion to do so.

- It is clear from Cliff's own papers that his career is not solely dependent on his rendering services as a judge on Idols SA. He is not dependent on Idols SA for generating income and, by his own admission, has been considering walking away from Idols SA for years.

- Idols SA is a popular and top performing show and by delaying the start of the series, audiences will experience delays or miss out completely. There are also far-reaching financial and reputational consequences for M-Net and its producer should the 2016 auditions be stopped. Venues and crew members have already been booked. Any schedule changes would affect all freelance contractors and crewmembers that would lose out on their income. Any changes to the filming schedule would also have a detrimental impact on the Idols SA contestants themselves, many of whom are students, who have already made arrangements to participate in the scheduled auditions.

- M-Net denies that it has in any way defamed Cliff or caused harm to his reputation. Any harm done to Cliff's reputation is a direct result of his own actions and not as a result of M-Net's decision to exclude him from the Idols SA judging panel.

- M-Net also denies that it has violated any of Cliff's constitutional rights.

- It also denies that it has acted inconsistently in relation to comments made by two other Idols SA judges. The circumstances relating to the statements made by other Idols SA judges were clearly distinguishable. Cliff chose to enter the fray in the midst of an acrimonious public discussion about race relations and made statements which he admits were highly insensitive and ill-advised.

- Over the years, other presenters have left Idols SA either on their own terms or as a result of non-renewal of contracts.

- M-Net seeks the dismissal of Cliff's urgent application with costs.

- M-Net stands by its decision to terminate its relationship with Cliff. We are firmly of the view that this decision was the correct one for Idols SA and M-Net. The statements made by Cliff demonstrated a clear lack of empathy for the history of South Africa and M-Net did not wish to participate in fueling further racially based divisions in the country.

A full copy of the High Court affidavit is available here: Answering Affidavit.

Actors in this post: Gareth Cliff

Shows in this post: Idols

Channels in this post: M-Net, Mzansi Magic


27 Jan 2016 09:20

I can't believe that Mnet called Gareth a poster boy of racisms.

27 Jan 2016 10:03

Black Twitter were the ones calling for Gareth Cliff to be fired and nw they are siding with him on the case against MNET .oh well hw can u trust ppl that said the will nvr watch Generation by are contunuing to watch it in numbers . ....This is a classic example of how the entertainment industry is so divided .one of the can be so unfairly treated but they will never stand up and fight .they failed to act during the Tony Kgoroge/THe wild fiasco .they kept mum on The GEnerations 16 dismissal case .they will continue to be treated unfairly

27 Jan 2016 11:29

one of the can be so unfairly treated but they will never stand up and fight .they failed to act during the Tony Kgoroge/THe wild fiasco .they kept mum on The GEnerations 16 dismissal case .they will continue to be treated unfairly.
am trying to understand your statement, my interpretation of your statement is that they are supporting Gareth but did not support one of their own i.e. a black person. The so-called black twitter (and I use the term loosely) does not represent the majority of black South Africans. How many people use twitter in SA and how many of them are black.  I like Gareth Cliff, I used to listen to him on 5FM and whenever a racist caller phoned into his show, he did not hesitate to put them in their place.  I do not think he is racist. Gareth shoots from the hip and most people can misconceive that. The fact that he said people do not understand freedom of speech does not make him racist. I don't even think MNet think that he is racist, it is just that they have committed and they have to see this through. And for them to even come and say that they were not going to renew his contract is just hogwash and they had entered into negotiations with him.
I am not privy to the facts of the Tony Kgorege case.

27 Jan 2016 11:57

@ingenuity my point is Black twitter were the ones that said they would bycott idol SA if he was part of the judging pannel and Mnet acred on tha perception and fired him .now that the case is on they are calling Mnet unfair acoording to the comments I was reading yesterday .I do believe Gareth Cliff was unfairly treated .the man is opinionnated we all knw that and Mnet knows that but to fire him just because he expressed an opinion was just ridiculous and it shows that broadcasting houses treat their emplyees unfairly .its high time people who work in entertainment stand up and fight together for better pay and working conditions .when the wild started years ago ,he wanted a better pay but the production house refused and no1 stood with him to fight the injustice .even when Generations 16 fiasco happened the industry ddnt come together and fight .dats the point I am making and am all over the place I hope u can get wat I am saying

27 Jan 2016 12:01

He I mean Tony Kgoroge

27 Jan 2016 15:51

I think I understand what you are saying. It is sad state of affairs. The big difference between what is happening to actors and actresses or media personalities in SA and the USA is the actors and atresses in the US have so much pull, that if a favourite character is replaced most people stop watching and that means a dip in revenue so actors and actresses use that as a bagaining tool. In SA there are only a handful of shows and actors and actresses have not reached the stage where they are able to bargain for better pay, and you just have to be thankful that you have a job and are able to put food on the table. It is a sad state of affairs indeed.

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