Government moots return of dreaded media tribunal

2015-04-26 15:00

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Communications Minister Faith Muthambi is spearheading what appears to be the ANC’s resuscitation of its media appeals tribunal regulation.

Muthambi told MPs this week they needed to take further action on the issue of a regulatory system for the print media so that they could achieve the meaningful transformation agenda of the country. The process would include the resuscitation of a parliamentary inquiry in which she would participate, she said.

“We need to come up with a more balanced and acceptable regime within the industry,” Muthambi said.

Her comments came amid various signals from within government indicating unhappiness about media coverage. This included President Jacob Zuma’s comment that the Sunday Times’ front page photo of the killing of Mozambican national Emmanuel Sithole had depicted the country in a bad light.

Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu criticised media coverage of xenophobia on Friday, and said she now understood why a media tribunal was necessary.

Muthambi’s spokesperson, Ayanda Hollow, told City Press his boss was voicing a “vision discussion point” that would still go through the process of debate and engagement by all industry stakeholders.

“The shape and form of the transformation in the industry is what all players have talked about with limited urgency, thus the minister wants this matter to be a priority,” he said.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa confirmed this week the ANC was sticking to its 2007 resolution to call for a state-controlled media appeals tribunal to regulate the media.

“There is a resolution in the ANC from about 2007 calling for a media tribunal. We have not retreated on that resolution. That’s a conference resolution,” he said.

Kodwa said the fifth Parliament had to start the debate about the tribunal following the discussions and interviews held by the fourth Parliament.

The SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has, however, warned that a state-controlled media tribunal would be unconstitutional and unnecessary.

Sanef chair Mpumelelo Mkhabela said it would be helpful if Muthambi could clarify the areas she was concerned about because there had been a lot of progress around self-regulation since the issue was raised in 2007.

Mkhabela pointed out that, on both self-regulation and media transformation in terms of ownership and equity, the media had already done its own introspection.

“I don’t think Parliament would recommend any stronger mechanism of regulation than the system we have now. The ANC has already embraced it.”

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