Editors' forum 'disappointed' at Independent Media's Press Council exit

2016-10-22 14:37
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Cape Town – The South African National Editors’ Forum has expressed disappointment at the decision taken by Independent Media to withdraw from the activities of the Press Council of South Africa.

Independent Media, which owns numerous newspapers and online platforms including the Cape Times, The Star, The Mercury and IOL,  announced on Thursday that they were pulling out of the official regulatory system for independent media in South Africa.

Complaints against the group’s titles would now be adjudicated by an internal ombudsman, Jovial Rantao. He is a former editor of various titles in Independent Media.

Sanef said the reconstituted Press Council and Press Code was the result of years or research, consultation and negotiations between the country’s media houses and role players, through the Press Freedom Commission headed by the late Chief Justice Pius Langa.

Independent Media and its management were part and parcel of these discussions and decisions, Sanef said.

"Independent Media now blames 'loopholes' in the Press Code for its dramatic decision to cut all ties with the Press Council. It is disappointing that Independent sought to make this radical decision unilaterally while discussions with the Press Council were still ongoing.

"We note that this decision means that all publications of the company, both print and digital, will now fall outside the exemptions of pre-publication approvals by the Film and Publications Board (FPB) enjoyed by members of the Press Council."

Sanef confirmed its commitment to the current system of independent co-regulation by the Press Council.

"We note reports by the Press Council on its rulings [which are mostly made in favour of complainants] and take very seriously the findings of the Press Ombudsman or appeals panel about mistakes made by journalists in the exercise of their duties."

The forum noted Independent Media's commitment to self-regulation and stated opposition to the introduction of a statutory Media Appeals Tribunal. 

"However, we believe that self-regulation should be executed at arm's length by an independent regulatory mechanism like the Press Council and not by employees of media companies. To use an internal ombudsman as a replacement of independent arbiters is unacceptable and we call on Independent media to rescind the decision."

Read more on:    independent media  |  sanef  |  cape town  |  media

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