‘This is about more than self-regulation’

2012-01-28 19:48

What is the difference between the Press Council’s public hearings held early last year and the Press Freedom Commission hearings?

There is a significant difference between this process and the Press Council process.

The Press Council was looking at ways of strengthening self-regulation. Self-regulation was the given mechanism and the council was looking at how to improve it.

For our processes, the commission decided that the terms of reference would be widened. It was not going to look at self-regulation; it was going to look at all the regulatory frameworks that were available.

Having looked at all the frameworks, it would determine which one was best suited for South Africa.

So that’s different.

What’s the significance of ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s presentation for the ANC this week?

For us, the ANC has, like other people, come to the conclusion that this process doesn’t have the sense of a sectional interest output, but is something that will serve the nation.

In some ways – and this is my own theory, which is worth nothing – it might be that the whole discussion around the Media Appeals Tribunal becomes difficult.

The ANC’s involvement may mean it can use this process to produce an output that will also help it deal
with its own tribunal issues.

If it didn’t think it would be helpful in that regard, I don’t think it would have got involved. What’s the ANC view of the Press Freedom Commission?

Once the new terms of reference were issued, even Jackson (Mthembu, ANC national spokesperson) said this was a different situation now, and the ANC was going to get involved.

In its submission, Cosatu heavily mirrored the ANC’s 2010 National General Council discussion paper, called “Media transformation, ownership and diversity”, and attacked the lack of diversity in print media ownership.

Is ownership up for debate in this commission process?

Ownership isn’t part of our mandate. We are looking at the regulatory framework as it pertains to content and how aggrieved parties get redressed. That is our mandate.

The issues of transformation and ownership are being handled by a different process in Parliament. We are fortunate that we don’t have to deal with those minefields.

What kind of interest are you getting in the commission process?

Consider that the Press Council effort elicited 59 submissions.

The Press Freedom Commission now has 200 plus. There has been a lot more interest in this process than the Press Council process, which is good because the two processes are complementary.

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