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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

‘Publishing racial discrimination advertisements comes with a hefty price’


7 September 2022

The University of Johannesburg’s School of Communications says stricter regulations must be put in place in the advertising industry, to ensure that racial discrimination is avoided. The university has been making submissions at the South African Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into racial discrimination in the advertising industry. The Commission’s Gauteng provincial office is leading the inquiry which is aimed at addressing the publication of adverts that carry racial undertones in South Africa.

The commission says it is deeply concerned about the industry after receiving several submissions on racial discrimination by the public, advertising agencies, retailers and regulatory bodies.

Associate Professor in the School of Communication Sarah Chiumbu says the regulatory bodies that govern advertising need to be more proactive in creating specific rules that govern the advertising industry before adverts become more offensive and strategies that promote equality should be implemented.

The Film and Publication Board (FPB) says if the advertising code is breached, severe penalties will be imposed on those found guilty. The FPB has told the South African Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into racial discrimination in the advertising industry that those found guilty of breaching the code could face a large fine. The probe is taking place in Kempton Park, east of Johannesburg.

Acting Shared Services Executive at the FPB Pandelis Gregoriou called for harsher penalties against those found guilty of contravening the advertising code. The current fine is capped at R150 000, a maximum criminal sentence not exceeding two years or a combination of both.

The Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) also added that there are regulations in place to hold broadcasters accountable, should they broadcast advertisements that have breached the advertising code.

In 2020, retailer Clicks came under fire for an advert seen as prejudicing against black natural hair. On its website, the company published an image of black hair, labelled as dry and damaged.

Source: SABC

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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