Business Day Television (BDTV) and CNBC Africa have become embroiled in a dispute over alleged plagiarism after the former broadcaster, formerly known as Summit TV, accused its competitor of copying a series of messages posted on Twitter during Wednesday’s midterm budget speech by finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
BDTV boss Vernon Matzopolous has accused CNBC of stealing the content his company posted to Twitter. CNBC Africa head of programming Bronwyn Nielsen has admitted the copying took place and apologised for what she has called an “error in judgment” by a junior intern.
But Motzopolous is having none of it. “Why bother to employ your own journalists when you can just steal the content from your rivals?” he wrote in a news release, in which he attached images showing CNBC Africa posting identical tweets to those issued on BDTV’s Twitter feed.
“As far as I know, publishing someone’s content as your own is plagiarism. Or does the Twittersphere have a different set of rules?” Matzopolous wrote.
In response, Nielsen explains that CNBC Africa has a “team of people managing the channel’s social media accounts”.
“One of the members was a junior intern who made an error in judgment during the midterm budget by copying and pasting three Business Day Television tweets,” she says.
“The channel does not condone plagiarism and extends an apology to BDTV. Strict disciplinary action will be taken against the staff member in question.”
The screenshots below show tweets originally sent from the BDTV account, with a timestamp, and a short while later, the same tweets, word for word, were sent from the CNBC Africa account (the messages have now been deleted):
The intern at CNBC responsible for the channel’s tweets failed to remove “@BusinessDayTV” from one of the tweets then produced a direct copy after retweeting the original.