'New media act is censorship'

2009-10-19 22:20
Johannesburg - The degree of media freedom has improved since the advent of democracy in South Africa but a lot more still needs to be done, said Raymond Louw, deputy chair of the South Africa chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa.

He was address a commemoration of "Black Wednesday" or Media Freedom Day in Johannesburg on Monday.

Monday was the anniversary of Wednesday, October 19, 1977, the day that saw major newspapers, The World, Weekend World and the Christian publication Pro-Veritas, banned by the then apartheid government. On the same day scores of activists and journalists were detained.

"The media is much freer today compared to the apartheid days. However, there is still a lot more to be done to ensure its independence," said Louw.

Controlling the media

He said the government was introducing legislation that sought to control the media.

"I am extremely worried about these laws. I'm even more worried about more legislation being introduced," he said.

Referring to the Films and Publications Amendment Act 3 of 2009 which was recently signed into law, Louw said it brought about unpleasant working conditions, where journalists and publishers were working in fear of being jailed or incurring huge fines.

The new law states that every publication - including those on the internet - that is not a recognised newspaper, must be submitted for classification if it can possibly be construed to deal with a variety of matters listed in the legislation.

These matters include sexual conduct with violates or shows disrespect for the rights of human dignity of any person, degrades a person or constitutes incitement to cause harm or violence and advocates propaganda for war.

Unconstitutional

When the bill was introduced in 2006, the media industry protested that it paved the way for pre-publication censorship and criminalised free expression.

Louw said: "I don't think it is constitutional for publishers to have to get approval before their stories are published," said Louw, adding that the legislation was broad, complicated and confusing.

He said South Africa should guard against following in the footsteps of Zimbabwe, Botswana and other African countries which sought to control their media.

"It is not a South African or ANC thing. In developed countries president after president has tried to introduce legislation attempting to control the media," said Louw.

Journalists should fight for media freedom. "They should make a big noise about it to stop these laws, like the class of 1977 did," he said.

Worrying trend

He said it was worrying that in the past few years, of the 53 countries on the African continent, 31 had journalists detained or sentenced, or publications closed down.

Retired Judge Pius Langa refused to be drawn into the constitutionality of the Films & Publications Amendment Act.

"I can't make judgements here. It is the media's role to investigate these laws and take them to court if they are unhappy," said Langa.

Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe said journalists today were too greedy.

"The class of 1977 was driven by a bigger cause to liberate and educate the nation. Today journalists are greedy. They worry more about their salaries and benefits, than serving the public," said Thloloe.
 

- SAPA
Read more on:    media freedom  |  constitution
NEXT ON NEWS24X

DRC plotters acquitted

2014-11-28 20:40
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Africa: Land of Billionaires!

Find out who are the richest of the richest in Africa!

 
 

Men24.com

Best bro movies 2014
Every man should be able to do these three things
Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!
Hottie of the day: Jesselyn

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Hot festive offers at kalahari.com!

Hurry! Stocks are limited. Don’t miss out. Shop Now!

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Grandiose ideas and plans can trip you up today. Keep things in context and take one step at a time....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.