FAST-food chain Nando's has turned the tables on pay-TV broadcaster DStv, saying it will not flight its controversial new advertisement on its channels despite DStv lifting a ban on the commercial.

The commercial had been banned by both DStv and e.tv - after both initially aired it - earlier this month, days after the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) rejected it on the grounds that it could be misinterpreted and perpetuate xenophobia and even violence.

The commercial opens with foreign nationals illegally crossing the South African border, followed by a voice-over that says: "You know what's wrong with South Africa? It's all you foreigners."

It then shows foreign nationals including Chinese, Indians and even Afrikaners disappearing in puffs of smoke. Finally, the only person left is a traditional Khoisan man who says he's not going anywhere.

Thabang Ramogase, marketing manager at Nando's, said on Friday it would not flight the advertisement on DStv as it was unhappy with the way the broadcaster had dealt with the matter.

Earlier on Friday, Chris Hitchings, media sales CEO at DStv, said the company had reversed its decision not to air the advertisement after the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) dismissed complaints about it.

Mr Hitchings said: "We respect the ASA processes and the ruling on the commercial. We will reinstate the flighting of the commercial shortly."

But Mr Ramogase said Nando's was not interested in the DStv offer as the fast-food chain saw it only as a response to a decision by TopTV, DStv's competitor, to broadcast the commercial.

"Their decision only came after TopTV said it would air the advertisement (earlier this week). They should have stuck to their principles and not jumped on the bandwagon like they did when the SABC decided to reject the advertisement," he said.

He said the advertisement would be broadcast on TopTV, which said on Wednesday that it would air the advertisement following the ASA ruling. It said its decision was based on its desire to push the envelope, to promote freedom of expression and to encourage debate.

Mr Ramogase said he had not received any word from the SABC or e.tv on whether they would now flight the commercial.

On Friday, e.tv told Business Day, however, that it stood by its decision not to broadcast it. The SABC could not be reached but it was understood that it too would not reverse the ban.

On June 15, the ASA dismissed complaints that it had received from viewers and ruled that the Nando's commercial did not contravene its Code of Advertising Practice.

The ASA said the advertisement was within the parameters of hyperbole or harmless parody. According to the Code of Advertising Practice, "obvious untruths, harmless parody or exaggerations, intended to catch the eye or amuse, are permissible provided that they are clearly to be seen as humorous".

"This is also in line with the respondent's reputation for poking fun at topical issues and current affairs," it said, adding that the commercial clearly contrasted the "voice of xenophobia" with the "voice of reason", which explained that "real South Africans" loved diversity.

"This carries the implied message that the initial voice of xenophobia does not speak for real South Africans," the ASA said.

In addition, the ASA ruled, if one viewed the entire commercial, it was apparent that the xenophobic voice and opinion was ridiculed and made to be irrational.

Mr Ramogase said Nando's felt vindicated by the ASA's ruling and would continue to produce quality advertisements.

neethlingt@bdfm.co.za