PROPHETS of doom, particularly those predicting such things as floods and frightening storms, may soon have their wings clipped.

A provision in the South African Weather Service Amendment Bill, published this week by the government after approval by MPs, makes it a punishable offence for any person to spread a severe weather warning while knowing it may not be true.

Clause 10 of the bill includes a warning of sorts to weather doomsayers: "It is an offence for any person to publish, disseminate or distribute any severe weather warning which he or she believes or ought to have reasonably known or suspected to be false or misleading or that may incite public alarm."

Clearly, people may still look out of the window and forecast that a severe storm is brewing, but that is unlikely to cause alarm, even among the most gullible.

If, however, a man with a white collar around his neck and a black book in his hand pronounces that Noah-style rains will soon wash our misdeeds away in a flood, he may be committing an offence as people may panic and give away or sell their furniture and other possessions.

Of course, he can always argue that he could not have "reasonably known or suspected" his forecast to be misleading as it was not really made by him but through him by one who does not mislead.

Selling a weather prediction by passing a collection bowl around is not an offence under the bill, so the commercialisation of thunder-and-lightning predictions from the pulpit will still remain a profitable business.

Coin it as well as sing it

HERE’s some music to your ears, but not necessarily good music if you regard business studies as making overblown claims for how this speciality can transform your business. The Henley Business School in Africa is "launching" (everything must be launched, rocket-like) a Master of Business Administration (MBA) "tailored for the music and creative industries".

The school’s dean, Jon Foster-Pedley, said the MBA, introduced by Henley in the UK in 2011, is "the first of its kind in the world" and is "aimed at strengthening the music and creative industries’ management and leadership capabilities".

This ought to be good news for the proverbial penniless musician — penniless journalists will have to wait a bit longer for their good news — a sure sign that, as one ageing singer once nasally whined, "the times they are a-changin’".

Maybe musicians of the future will be more business smart than so many of today’s lot, who live by the lines of a famous reggae song: "Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right."

Wise words

"I WAS a good amateur but only an average professional. I soon realised that there was a limit to how far I could rise in the music business, so I left the band and enrolled at New York University."

Alan Greenspan, economist and former US Federal Reserve chairman (1926-).

E-mail insider@bdfm.co.za