ConCourt to consider film law

2012-03-12 20:45

Johannesburg - The constitutionality of amendments to the Films and Publications Act will be considered by the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The provisions, introduced in 2010, require that publications - excluding newspapers - are approved before publication if they contain sexual conduct.

The home affairs department and the Film and Publications Board argue that the classification requirement is justifiable as it aims to educate consumers, protect children and eliminate child pornography.

Print Media SA (PMSA) and the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) argue that pre-publication classification should not be necessary for publications aimed at educating the public or condemning the act of sexual conduct.

The media groups are also concerned that the classification process will delay publication and increase production costs, because the act requires the entire publication to be screened and not only the contentious material.

The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg previously found these provisions inconsistent with the Constitution.

On November 1, PMSA and Sanef argued that the act defined sexual conduct broadly.

This would require pre-screening by the films and publications board, of a wide range of media that might describe such sexual conduct without condoning it.

The court ruled then that the delays in publication caused by pre-screening would erode the currency of news and would amount to an unjustifiable limitation on the constitutional right to freedom of expression.

On Tuesday, the Justice Alliance of SA and media freedom advocacy group Section 16 join the proceedings as friends of the court.

- SAPA

Read more on:    legislation  |  media
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