Media Appeal Tribunal a step too far - Press Council Appeals Panel

2015-10-23 21:02
Australia's major newspaper titles have gone behind an internet pay wall. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Australia's major newspaper titles have gone behind an internet pay wall. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Johannesburg - The establishment of a Media Appeals Tribunal may be too drastic, the Press Council Appeals Panel said on Friday. 

Chairperson of the panel, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, said an appeals tribunal could take the country down a "slippery path". 

"Political leaders have a right to complain about the way they are represented, but a Media Appeals Tribunal, in whatever way it [is] projected, feels like we are going one step too far," said Ngoepe

He was addressing a briefing in Johannesburg where he said he believed journalists and political leaders all respected the rights to freedom of expression.

"We have heard the discontent among senior leaders of the governing party about the way in which current affairs are covered. In my view, tension between the media is healthy; what is important is to know how to deal with it," he said. 

Ngoepe proposed that there should be education around the existing regulatory system that governs newspaper content, before it is rejected or replaced.

He also proposed that the ruling party publish a document which would give details of its intentions for a media appeals tribunals.

"Since 2007, [the ANC'S] conference resolutions have referred to the need for a parliamentary investigation of the desirability of what it calls a Media Appeals Tribunal, or MAT. Yet no detail – no discussion paper, no framework, no motivation – has been provided," Ngoepe said. 

"I would like to use this platform today to urge the ANC to publish a formal document that can then be used as the basis for public discussion. We need to understand more about the governing party’s intentions, so that we can begin the public conversation," he said, adding that this was a matter which had the potential to affect all South Africans. 

He proposed that there be input from legal experts on the impact that a media tribunal could have. 

Ngoepe also called on the ANC and the public to acquaint themselves about the workings of the current Press Council Appeals Panel. 

He also called for the newspaper industry and the journalist to respect the Press Council and the appeals panel, and in particular to respect its judgments. 

Read more on:    press council  |  johannesburg  |  media

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