Press Code 'insufficient for children'

2012-03-13 14:47

Johannesburg - The Press Code is not sufficient to protect children from being exposed to the publication of content on sexual conduct, the Justice Alliance of SA said on Tuesday.

"By the time there is a complaint at the ombudsman, the danger has already occurred in the sense that the publication has already taken place," Jasa advocate Darryl Cooke said.

He was arguing in the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg in a case which questioned the constitutional validity of sections of the Film and Publications Act.

The Press Code was not an effective bulwark because in the period that the case was waiting to come to court, the Press Code had been amended on sexual conduct, said Cooke.


Cooke said the Press Council had 11 members and it only took the support of two-thirds of those people to amend the code.

In an amendment on October 15, 2011, the council changed a section that dealt with the visual presentation of sexual conduct. It originally stated that a visual presentation of sexual conduct may not be published unless a legitimate public interest dictated otherwise.

Now the wording has been changed to replace "may" with "should", which Jasa considers to be advice or a recommendation. The word "legitimate" was removed, leaving only "public interest".

"The Press Code... is a bulwark that can be circumvented fairly quickly," Jasa submitted.

Counsel for Print Media and the SA National Editors' Forum supported a declaration of invalidity by the South Gauteng High Court, that amendments to sections 16(1), (2) and 24(2)(a) of the Film and Publications Act are inconsistent with the Constitution.

Their complaints are that the amendments exclude only newspapers from the need to submit any content to the Film and Publications Board before publication.

It would mean that numerous mainstream publications would have to submit before publication even matters that are in the public interest.

Judgment was reserved.

  • deon.fourie - 2012-03-13 15:17

    "The Press Code is not sufficient to protect children from being exposed to the publication of content on sexual conduct" Can someone please explain to me WHY we need this? What "sexual conduct" crap is being plastered everywhere that's harming the children? Does Huisgenoot or the Sowetan regularly publish pictures describing how to touch a toddler? This is bloody ridiculous and none of it makes sense to me. I can't help but wonder if this isn't some sort of test-run to see how they'll implement the real deal once the Secrecy Bill goes through.

  • wesleywt - 2012-03-13 15:21

    Can these morons give an example of children being "exposed" to sexual content? These people think its their right to tell us what to think and what to watch. They need us to be like children to exert power over us.

  • Cracker - 2012-03-13 15:31

    This country also happens to be populated by adults. What nonsense and all just to force the hobby horses of some on the rest of us. Children, incidentally, grow into adults. Adults then to be bound by laws or rules made for the sake of children at all times. What nonsense! Where is the so-called bad material in any event being presented to children?

  • John - 2012-03-13 17:10

    mmm... Interesting comments by Sargon, deon, wesleywt and cracker. I cannot give examples of child "exposure to sexual conduct". but when I look at the amount of sexual abuse to children and the increase in child on child abuse, all I can say is that something is not right. And if it takes a change in legislation to protect children, then I'm for it all the way. And if it interferes with the big boys porn viewing.... TOUGH LUCK.

      danamalan - 2012-03-13 17:54

      I don't normally resort to ad hominem, but you sir, are a complete and utter pillock!

      deon.fourie - 2012-03-14 08:25

      Oh, yeah, 'cause the "big boys" use the media and publications to view porn? Don't be an idiot man. Using the "poor little children" as an excuse to suppress freedom of expression is an atrocious tactic that's always been used by those with devious intentions. No one here would dare disagree with you on the alarming prevalence of child abuse in this country, but to somehow make the conclusion that the problem can be partially cured by suppressing whatever the hell it is they want to suppress is completely over the line and utterly misguided. Not to mention a complete waste of time and money. Government needs to shut up, do their jobs by providing basic services and spending public funds wisely. We, the citizens will take care of the rest. I don't need a baby sitter. Am I allowed to use "baby" and "sit" in the same sentence now?

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