Media bill: govt fears for image

2010-08-19 17:18
Cape Town - Government was concerned about negative foreign coverage of its perceived attempts to place restrictions on the press and was seeking to meet senior editors to discuss clashing views on its plans, government spokesperson Themba Maseko said on Thursday.

At a briefing on Cabinet's fortnightly meeting, he said the Government Communication and Information Service (GCIS) was monitoring the media coverage, locally and abroad, over the protection of information bill and the ruling party's proposal set up a media tribunal that reports to Parliament.

"We do acknowledge that the negative stories are beginning to migrate to the international sphere. We are obviously concerned about that. We think is something that both Parliament and Cabinet will take into consideration."

At this stage, there was no plan to withdraw the contentious bill though government would consider the various arguments against the proposed legislation.

Commentators have branded the bill unconstitutional and a throw-back to apartheid era restrictions on press freedom.

Will look at public reaction to bill

"At this particular point in time there is no decision to withdraw the bill. However as submissions come, I think we are not dealing with an intransigent government here," Maseko said.

"So if there are valid, strong arguments being put against the bill government will consider all those submission and if needs be, it may consider what further action it needs to take.

"Obviously if an impression is created that the bill is intent on muzzling the media and limiting free speech, it is something that we will be concerned about."

Cabinet again said it wanted to meet with the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) to discuss "the perception that government is bent on muzzling the media", Maseko added.

"At that meeting, government will confirm the fact that there is neither a plan nor an intention on its part to limit media freedom because muzzling the media would be contrary to the principle of freedom of speech that is enshrined in the Constitution."

Less emotional debate

The meeting with Sanef was expected to take place as soon as a mutually convenient date was found.

Maseko said he had personally made contact with Sanef to try and find a suitable date.

"Part of what that meeting must achieve is the creation of an environment for rational and less emotional debate on media freedom," Maseko said.

The media and the government's clashing views on whether self-regulation of the industry was sufficient, had to be discussed in a calm manner.

"There is just too much emotion on both sides which is actually making it difficult for rational discussion and debate to take place," he said.

"It is a discussion that needs, in my view, to take place without emotion, without people yelling insults at each other, calling each other names, which is what one is observing in a lot of the media stories and articles made over the past few weeks."

He reiterated that the ANC's proposal for a media appeals tribunal had not yet been adopted by government, but had to be at the heart of the planned meeting.

"Rational debate is essentially about a discussion of what is the best model for regulating the media."

Regulation needed

He said it was important to understand that there was agreement in the country that there was a need for some kind of regulation.

"The media is of the view that self-regulation is the model, but that there may be a need to change or improve that self-regulation," he said.

"The other proposal from the ruling party is that self-regulation is not a model, it has not worked in the past, and you need an alternative."

Maseko declined to comment on a statement by President Jacob Zuma on Friday questioning the print media's motives and its ability to judge government's performance.

The protection of information bill seeks to regulate the classification of information and makes publishing top secret documents a crime punishable with up to 25 years in prison.

The Freedom of Expression Institute has said it appears to be motivated by a desire on the part of government to silence criticism.
 

- SAPA
Read more on:    sanef  |  politics  |  media
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/Music

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The spotlight may be on you and you need to perform. This can be overwhelming and you need to stay as focussed and centred as you...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.