Board overstepping legal mandate - lawyer

2012-05-29 12:22

Pretoria - The Film and Publication Board (FPB) has no legal jurisdiction to classify content published or broadcast by media outlets, Steve Budlender representing City Press newspaper said on Tuesday.

Submitting evidence to a hearing convened by the board in Centurion, the advocate said bona fide newspapers were regulated by the press ombudsman.

“Where does the Film and Publication Board derive its power to charge City Press?," asked Budlender.

At that stage the board’s legal manager Sipho Risiba intervened and informed Budlender that the board was mandated to regulate online content, which included the City Press online website.

Budlender argued that the website and the newspaper were one item and both did not fall under the authority of the board.


He pointed out that even during “the old days” under apartheid’s “repressive laws” newspapers were exempt from the Censor Board.

Budlender urged the board to “stick to the law” and dismiss the complaints brought to it against the paper.

“If this board goes ahead and makes a ruling on the City Press online content, it would be in violation of its own act,” he said.

The advocate also argued that it was in the public interest for City Press as a media house to publish the portrait, without sensationalising or endorsing it.

“City Press did not create the image. They did not endorse the image but only published it as something which people need to know about,” said Budlender.

Informing the public

“The media is doing what is allowed to do in the Constitution, that is informing the public,” he said.

Budlender contended that in a country where children aged 16 years could have sex, get condoms and have abortions, “why would you want to restrict a portrait of a penis"?

Mmapula Fisha, chief operations officer of the board, said the five classifiers had made “opinions over the portrait” but a decision had not been reached.

The meeting will receive presentations from complainants, and legal representatives of City Press and the Goodman Gallery.

“The classification at this stage is underway but we have not made a decision. We have the views of the classifiers we dispatched to examine and classify the portrait,” she said.

Age restriction

Complainants were allowed to make presentations to the FPB on Tuesday.

An advocate representing the complainants told the board that the portrait should have been classified for people under the age of 18.

“Our submission is that consideration should have been made that particular age groups ought not to have had sight of the picture,” he said.

“The image has the potential to cause harm, physiological harm. It is not in the public interest to have people under the age of 18 viewing that image,” he said.

The names of all the complainants and the classifiers were not to be published in the media, Fisha announced. She said no questions would be taken from the media during the session.

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee walked into the room shortly after the meeting started. She sat behind her newspaper's lawyers, next to Adriaan Basson.

Last week, the board sent a team of five classifiers to view artist Brett Murray's painting The Spear after several complaints.

The painting depicts President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed. It was vandalised last Tuesday and has since been removed from the gallery, which has temporarily closed its doors to the public.

The FPB is a government entity under the jurisdiction of the department of home affairs.

  • Squeegee - 2012-05-29 12:29

    Misuse of structures: ANC's favourite pastime.

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-05-29 12:42

      I don't get what the big fuss is all about. The ANC regime is trying to stop the people from seeing Zuma's genitals??? But most of the ANC ministers in parliament have seen it already, first hand.

      Matthew - 2012-05-29 13:24

      whoever thumb's down'd this,you're a twat.wake up

  • Loo - 2012-05-29 12:29

    Bwahahahaha . .forgot about that didnt you FPB . .GO read your OWN mandate before you make decisions on matters ... Or ,, wait .. Dont tell me youre getting lunch for this .. hmmm

      Byron - 2012-05-29 13:48

      "the board’s legal manager Sipho Risiba intervened and informed Budlender that the board was mandated to regulate online content, which included the City Press online website."

      Loo - 2012-05-29 14:01

      Byron .. though I take that as the truth .. HOW in hell will they able to argue that the Internet which is international intellectual property be regulated by a local pisolie board tasked with telling US what is and what is not to be viewed. If that website is not hosted in South Africa for example .. It has no say. Im merely pointing out a useless and fruitless exercise.

      Byron - 2012-05-29 14:21

      I view it as classification. i.e classifying online content as 18+ or 16V or 13PG etc etc not censoring it

  • jackal666.daniel - 2012-05-29 12:30

    Hahahahahahaha! this case is getting more and more retarded as it goes on!!! Brilliant scheme mr Zoomer unite the ANC before going for a whipping at Manguang. Last ditch efforts and all

  • Irene - 2012-05-29 12:30

    This is what happens when first world mentality meets the primitive third world.

  • Kyle - 2012-05-29 12:42

    Steve Budlender is such a legend!

  • jacques.koorts - 2012-05-29 12:42

    Twee woorde. "vark skou"

  • Guy - 2012-05-29 12:44

    So if the board give the paining a "no under 18" restriction because it contains a drawing of a penis, are they going to restrict all the biology school text books as well?

      Squeegee - 2012-05-29 12:51

      No need. Haven't you heard - no one gets text books.

      Matthew - 2012-05-29 13:28

      @Guy: Touche'e @Squeegee: Touche'e again! =D

  • ro.jhb.1 - 2012-05-29 12:54


  • Michael - 2012-05-29 13:03

    Snore ANC snore...go do some real work you fools

  • Irene - 2012-05-29 13:08

    Seems like these primitives can't understand the difference between a painting and the real thing. Did they think it's a photograph?

      Richard - 2012-05-29 14:07

      You spot on Irene

  • John - 2012-05-29 13:22

    Lets go back 35 years....

  • Ryno - 2012-05-29 13:52

    the main act this year in the boswell and wilkie sircus is the ANC Clowns!!!

  • Faizie - 2012-05-29 13:57

    No age restriction on "" or any other porn site. This is such bull

  • Loo - 2012-05-29 13:57

    BWA HA AHA BWAHA SINCE WHEN does anyone including me give a f****c**k what the FPB says and does.. hehhe AI

      Byron - 2012-05-29 14:34

      You will if you have kids and you want to rent/buy a movie - their classification appears on the back.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-05-29 14:42

    The only thing the board can do is place a age restriction on it, as it has not made any determination in this regard it cannot fine or impose any penalty. The government and its henchmen certainly seen to be stepping up their "we make it up as we go along" campaign, aren't they.

  • abrham.nel - 2012-05-30 08:23

    the fpb is an anc lapdog as its members were 'appointed' by the anc. the more things chanage the more they stay the same - the anc makes the old apartheid censorship laws valid in upholding them. it is tragic that the anc is managing the country in reverse gear - apartheid, here we come! now that is what i call revision.

  • Sagren - 2012-06-01 10:14

    Tyranny alway disguises itself by using the sensibilities of the unsuspecting ..... for all our education and evolution. We always fail to see it until it is too late. The Beloved ANC is no longer the Beloved ANC - it is now a perverted machine hellbent on protecting criminals within its ranks. It no longer serves our people.

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