Press Freedom Commission widens scope
Johannesburg - The Press Freedom Commission on Friday said it had broadened its scope of reference to include various forms of regulation for South African media.
"We originally said we would look at a form of self-regulation for media.... now we are open-minded and are looking at statutory regulation and co-regulation too," spokesperson Phillip Mtimkulu said.
He said the commission would travel to other countries from November 21 to 25 to see which form of regulation worked best.
The commission was expected to make final recommendations for a proposed framework that would fit within the constitution from March.
Media appeals tribunal
The independent commission was set up by Print Media SA and the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) on July 7.
It was set up in response to the ANC's proposal for a statutory media appeals tribunal which emerged at its 2007 national conference. At its national general council last year, the ANC resolved that Parliament would be best placed to probe the viability of such a tribunal.
The suggestion of a media appeals tribunal sent shockwaves through the media fraternity, which raised concern over its effect on press freedom.
The ANC criticised the commission's initial "narrow" response to the tribunal when it suggested researching forms of self-regulation.
Pius Langa chairing commission
On Friday, spokesperson Jackson Mthembu welcomed the revised mandate of the commission.
"We believe the scope of work outlined in the revised terms of reference will go a long way [to] improving press governance and accountability."
He said, however, that there was still need for an "appeals accountability mechanism" in the event that citizens were not satisfied with the outcomes of self-regulation.
This appeals mechanism would not enforce censorship and would be free of control by the media, the state and commercial interests, he said. It would also abide by the Constitution.
Former Chief Justice Pius Langa is chairing the nine-member commission. Also represented are the business sector, a faith-based organisation, academia, the legal fraternity, organised labour and an international representative.