What interested parties had to say

2012-01-28 19:36

Cosatu took aim at press ownership, even though this wasn’t on the PFC’s agenda and its submission largely mirrored the ANC view of media ownership.

Cosatu said it shared the ANC’s Polokwane resolution about “the increasing concentration of ownership, control and content within the international media environment”, which is a particular problem in the South African print media.

Although Cosatu had decided it wouldn’t support a tribunal until clarity was offered by the ANC on how it would be run, its submission said a key problem was dealing with the media when it used “lies, defamation, distortion, selective reporting, unsubstantiated ‘facts’ from anonymous ‘sources’” and deliberate omissions.

Lambasting the Press Ombudsman as ineffective, Cosatu says there was a strong case for more stringent regulatory models.

The South Africa Council of Churches took issue with what it called “the toothless nature of the Press Ombudsman” and its inability to take “biting sanctions to breaches”.

The SACC believes statutory regulation is essential and doesn’t think government should be represented, but states that “representatives of press organisation(s) and especially those that represent the interests of marginalised communities (and) civil society organisation(s)” must be involved.

Inkatha Freedom Party
The IFP pulled no punches and asked for a new regulatory body that would co-regulate print media, alongside the Press Council.

The IFP said despite implementing a new code, the council lacked “powers to impose any penalties.” The IFP felt that the new code only protected the media fraternity.

The IFP believes self-regulation only “serves a small segment of the public prepared to make a complaint” and shifts the onus of watching media ethics from the government and media sector to the public, but without fully supporting those citizens.

R2K campaign
The R2K opposes statutory regulation, saying “a press autonomous of the government is critical to ensuring the free flow of information and enabling our rights to freedom of expression and access to information”.

The R2K accepted the need for a statutory regulation of broadcast media, but said this must be managed by an independent Chapter 9 institution.

The National Union of Mineworkers said that while South Africa has adequate legislation for media expression, there was “a policy and legislative vacuum which creates inability to hold some sections of the media to account” on questionable or illegal behaviour.

NUM referred to the phone hacking scandal that broke in the United Kingdom and said it supported the ANC view on regulation and the need for a media appeals tribunal.

Children’s Rights Centre
The Children’s Rights Centre (CRC) said that the fundamental purpose of the commission should be not to decide on regulation, but rather to look at how best to entrench freedom of information in South Africa.

The CRC suggested that all public bodies establish open and accessible systems for ensuring people’s right to receive information, and pushed for the protection of whistle-blowers.

When the public was refused access to information, the CRC said an independent appeals process should be provided by law.

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