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Angry KFC calls for Media Council to disband

KFC boss Jason Benevides has called on the Media Council of Bermuda to disband over the failure of one if its members to print a correction, six months after it was ordered to do so.

Mr Benevides, the controller of Kentucky Fried Chicken (Bermuda) Limited, also accused the council of perpetrating a ‘deception on the public’ over its inability to get The Workers Voice to comply with a June 12 ruling ordering the ‘corrective statement’.

An article in the January 30 edition of the newspaper, written by Mr Alvin Williams, accused KFC of trying to ‘decertify the workers organization (BIU) without the permission of the workers at KFC’. The accusation was later found to be inaccurate.

In a letter to Tony McWilliam, the editor of the Bermuda Sun and chairman of the council’s Working Group, Mr Benevides points out that five issues of The Workers Voice have appeared since the ruling ‘none of which appear to make any reference to the Council’s ruling or comply with the remedy directed by the Council’.

According to Mr Benevides, if the council ‘is unwilling or otherwise unable to compel compliance.......then the Council is not viable as a self regulating body’.

“It constitutes a deception on the public if the Council continues to promote itself as a body of members who are bound by the Code of Practice even in the face of evidence that one or more members do not take the Code seriously,” he goes on to write.

Yesterday, in response to Mr Benevides’ complaint, Mr McWilliam acknowledged the council’s failure to deal with the situation in a timely manner, and said that while ‘no immediate solution had been found’ the two sides had agreed to re-visit the issue ‘early in the New Year’.

Mr McWilliam also admitted that the council was ‘treading new ground’ over the situation. “This is the first case we have dealt with in which a co-signatory to our Code of Practice has failed to comply with a Council ruling,” he wrote.

However, Mr McWilliam said that while accepting responsibility for the delays, the Media Council took exception ‘to the provocative language chosen by KFC’.

“Contrary to inferences in KFC’s letter, there is no conspiracy against KFC,” the letter says. “Again, the Working Group of the Media Council resolves to bring this matter to a close as soon as possible.”

In June the Media Council ruled that The Workers Voice, the newspaper of the Bermuda Industrial Union, had contravened Clause 3 of the Code of Practice.

The clause states, in part: “The media, whilst free to be partisan, shall distinguish clearly between news, comment, conjecture and fact. Facts are not always clear-cut and often open to interpretation but the media shall present factual information fairly and with due regard to context and importance.”

Mr Williams told the council during its investigation into the matter that he was expressing an opinion, however the council ruled that The Workers Voice had failed to make that clear and ordered them to print a correction that said: “In our 30 January 2012 issue we published an article by Mr. Alvin Williams which stated that KFC made a recent attempt to decertify the union. That statement was inaccurate.”

According to Mr Benevides the newspaper’s failure to publish the correction shows ‘contempt for the Council and should not be allowed to continue without punitive sanction’.

You can read both letters in full online at www.royalgazette.com and the Media Council’s ruling at www.mediacouncilofbermuda.org

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Published December 12, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated December 12, 2012 at 12:27 am)

Angry KFC calls for Media Council to disband

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