Press council to review its constitution

2010-08-23 18:06

Johannesburg - The Press Council of SA (PCSA) is to undertake a complete review of its constitution in the wake of criticisms which have emerged in debate over the ANC's planned Media Appeals Tribunal.

"We are dealing with a system of self-regulation, not regulation from outside," press ombudsman Joe Thloloe said about the composition of the team which would undertake the review.

"It is self-regulation because... if any outside institution tells editors what to put (into the papers) or not, it is contrary to section 16 of the constitution... it interferes with the freedom of the press."

The team would report back to the council with its findings and recommendations in November, he said.

It would review the PCSA's constitution, the SA Press Code and complaints procedures, Thloloe said in a statement.

The review would be conducted by: the council's deputy chair Bewyn Petersen; The Star's editor Moegsien Williams; University of the Witwatersrand journalism Professor Franz Kruger; and businessman and Press Appeals Panel (PAP) public representative Simon Mantel.

Also on the review team would be: businessman, former journalist and PAP press representative Peter Mann; and Sunday Times deputy managing editor and PAP press representative Susan Smuts.

Thloloe said any South African individual or organisation could contribute to the review by submitting suggestions on possible changes to the ombudsman's office.

The constitution of the PCSA outlines its powers, jurisdiction, its aims and objectives and its membership.

The ANC has suggested that Parliament investigate the possibility of a statutory tribunal to regulate the print media, in line with a resolution made at its 52nd National Conference in Polokwane in 2007.

The ANC has argued that self-regulation is not enough to keep the media in check.

The debate will continue when the party gathers in Durban in September for its mid-term policy meeting, the National General Council.