Zuma: Media overboard at times

2010-08-11 23:02
Johannesburg - Media houses need to be regulated as they tend to go overboard at times, President Jacob Zuma told the SABC on Wednesday, in defending the proposed Media Appeals Tribunal.

"The media that says this is a restriction on us, we are the watchdog of the people - they were never elected.

"They need to be governed themselves because at times they go overboard on the rights," he said.

Zuma said the media could not be the only body which understood rights.

"We at the ANC, we believe we do. We fought for the rights. We understand what are the rights.

"The constitution talks about the privacy of people. At times things that are private are not made private in the manner in which the reportings are done."

MAT

The ANC raised the possibility of a media appeals tribunal (MAT) during its national conference in Polokwane in 2007.

It resolved to conduct an investigation into the possible establishment of an MAT. This investigation was to be "directed at examining the principle of an MAT and the associated modalities for implementation".

According to the resolution: "Conference notes that the creation of a MAT would strengthen, complement and support the current self-regulatory institutions (Press Ombudsman/Press Council) in the public interest."

On Tuesday, the ANC said it did not want to curtail press freedom with the tribunal, but that the print media did not seem committed to transformation.

"It’s us who can gloat and say the freedom you enjoy is as a result of what we fought for, led by the ANC (...) We are not about to reverse our legacy in that area," spokesperson Jackson Mthembu told editors and journalists in Johannesburg.

Assisting editors

He said the media should not deny the ANC the right to "put a view to the public".

Mthembu said the tribunal would be set up to "assist" editors and that the ANC valued media freedom.

However, the possibility of a media tribunal has drawn widespread criticism.

Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe has warned that a media tribunal would be an "imposition" on media freedom.

"Any system imposed from outside the press itself will be an imposition and in violation of the constitution," he said.

The SA National Editors' Forum has crafted a plan of action to fight attempts to regulate the media, including the proposed tribunal and the introduction of the Protection of Information Bill.

Sanef chair Mondli Makhanya said there was a "mobilisation against the media", not only on a political level but also amongst communities on the ground.

He warned that it was likely that the ANC government would pass the Media Appeals Tribunal for print media through Parliament by the end of the year.

If all else failed, Sanef would take the fight to court, he said.

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