M-Net breaks its silence over Cliff saga, to uphold court ruling

M-Net said it won’t appeal the judgment handed down by the high court in Johannesburg to reinstate Cliff.

Gareth Cliff walking out the court room in Johannesburg. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - M-Net has broken its silence on the outcome of the Gareth Cliff case, saying it will uphold the High Court ruling and reinstate the popular DJ as a judge on the 12th season of Idols.

The broadcaster said it won't appeal the judgment handed down by the High Court in Johannesburg to reinstate Cliff.

Cliff went head-to-head with the broadcaster this week after he was fired over a tweet which M-Net claims portrayed him as the poster boy for racism.

Despite the broadcaster's assertions that it didn't have a contract with Cliff, the court found that the two parties did have an agreement which was not upheld.

The court ruled that regardless of the nature of Cliff's tweet, all contractual obligations have to be upheld.

But it said it doesn't believe it made a mistake by removing him as an idols judge to begin with.

The broadcaster cut ties with Cliff earlier this month after he tweeted that people don't understand free speech in response to Penny Sparrow's racist Facebook post.

The radio personality argued that the way his contract was terminated was unlawful. However M-Net maintained it didn't have a contract with him, making his dismissal fair.

Cliff's reinstatement is, however, temporary, meaning the constitutionality of his axing will have to be argued in court at a later stage.

Meanwhile, as Cliff celebrates his victory, his lawyer, Eric Mabuza, said the radio personality is expected to tell his side of the story later this morning.

Mabuza said the Idols judge will be back on the show next month.

"Yes, he's looking forward to go and help those young contestants. He's starting on the 3rd. he's only required to attend from the 3rd. I can tell you he's ecstatic, looking forward to engaging with those contestants."

CLIFF'S CONTROVERSIAL PERSONALITY

The High Court in Johannesburg said M-Net has always been aware of Cliff's controversial personality and seems to have supported it until now.

Judge Nicholls said there is no merit to M-Nets claims that Cliff's temporary reinstatement will damage its brand as it's survived many other controversies surrounding him.

M-Net claims the tweet created an image of Cliff as a poster boy for racism

The broadcaster's lawyer, Wim Trengove, told the court on Tuesday that Idols judges are meant to entertain viewers not shock and offend them.

However, Advocate Dali Mpofu for Cliff, argued that it's precisely because of Cliff's sometimes shocking character that M-Net hired him.

He told the court that M-Net and Idols producers have on multiple occasions chosen to ride the wave of the controversy and shouldn't.

At the same time, questions have been raised about what impact, if any, does Cliff's racial law suit will have on Idols.

The Media Shop's Chris Botha predicted that more people will now watch the show.

"The most likely thing that will happen with the programme is the old 'no publicity is bad publicity', where there is now a lot of hype and a whole lot of noise being made about the programme. So those people who didn't know about Idols… now they do, and are quite likely to watch it. I think the audience for Idols will increase because of the noise."