Media tribunal: Parliament may have oversight

2012-01-31 15:00

Johannesburg - The ANC made its presentation to the Press Freedom Commission on Tuesday, in which it argued that the possibility of Parliament having oversight of a media appeals tribunal shouldn’t be excluded.

The submission was presented to the commission by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, NEC member Jessie Duarte and spokesperson Jackson Mthembu.

Reading from the ANC’s submission, Duarte said the current system of print media self-regulation by the press ombudsman made the media “unaccountable to the public and it is therefore ineffective”.

Duarte said South Africa had to start living in the “real world” and acknowledge that the press ombudsman, which is funded by media companies, could not be responsible for regulating the same companies.

Central to the party’s submission is a call for a parliamentary inquiry to hear submissions from the public and decide whether an independent media appeals mechanism was necessary, and how it would be funded and composed.

Duarte said the party welcomed the Press Freedom Commission’s hearings and would ask it to submit its final report as part of the parliamentary inquiry into the media appeals tribunal.


“The ANC says there is a need for an independent recourse in media space and can Parliament please investigate whether there is a need,” said Mthembu.

He added that there was a possibility “Parliament might even disagree with us [about the establishment of a media appeals tribunal], by the way.”

But former chief justice and current commission chairperson Pius Langa questioned the party about what it envisaged with “oversight” of this body [the appeals tribunal].

Mantashe responded, saying that the possibility of Parliament having oversight of this body should not be excluded.

Langa said that if Parliament had oversight “we are no longer talking about an independent press.

A whole new debate

“It is not a case of being allergic to Parliament but it gives rise to a whole new debate,” said Langa.

Duarte replied that it was “not entirely true” that Parliament cannot be capable of independent oversight”.

She said there were a number of instances in which Parliament had proven it was “very independent” and not dominated by a single party.

“In our view there is no problem with it being Parliament [that has oversight] if that is what Parliament decides.”

The commission began hearing submissions on print media regulation in Johannesburg on Monday and will do so until Wednesday.

  • Cracker - 2012-01-31 15:28

    Ultimately Parliament is seen as the domain of the politicians who are exactly the main ones on whose dealings and adequacy we need to be informed of. It is difficult to think of some other approach that will remove the reservation.

  • Andres - 2012-01-31 15:29

    I reiterate: If government wants an independent "Media Appeals Tribunal" to watch over the press, the South Africa public demand an independent "Cadre Deployment and Public Spending Appeals Tribunal," to watch over service-delivery and accountability of public-officials. Fair is fair... watch over us, then can we watch over you?

  • mystae - 2012-01-31 15:34

    You'd have to wonder if this isn't just another trick to get that info bill implemented. Anyone with a greater understanding of these processes care to comment? If this gets put through we're back to the good old days of underground printing press.

  • Phumi - 2012-01-31 15:37

    Only the ANC that must exercise oversight on the MAT and not parliament. In this country those who want to govern must do so democraticly and that is to go out and campaign to win votes. The ANC does not co-govern and it will never will whether you are an alliance partner or an opposition!

      Michele - 2012-01-31 15:44

      "Only the ANC that must exercise oversight on the MAT and not parliament". Looks like you may have made a typo Phumi.

      Andres - 2012-01-31 15:45

      Look up constitutional democracy and revise comment.

      Yar - 2012-01-31 15:56

      @Phumi The Info Bill and the MAT are tools of tyrants. Of course the ANC wants to control it. As time goes by the ANC becomes more like the NATS; Anti-democratic, dishonest, secretive, corrupt and dictatorial. Wait until this bill is used against you. It is there to take your rights away. The ANC, and you, simply want to steal in private and in the dark.

  • Cracker - 2012-01-31 15:40

    An underground press or media dissemination network can never be brought to task. It can spread as much lies as it likes. Uncontrollably. It seems that may be one of the consequences of what is taking shape now.

  • Michele - 2012-01-31 15:42

    What a hoot, the audacity is quite astounding. the media are the watchdog of government and do so on our behalf. Now the watchdog must answer to the very same people who they just exposed for corrupt activities ? Pull the other one Mr Mantashe.

  • wesley.bischoff - 2012-01-31 15:47

    How exactly would it be an independent tribunal if it is overseen by parliament? Freakin' retards.

  • Larry - 2012-01-31 15:56

    Not good enough. The thing needs to be scrapped.

  • Harry - 2012-01-31 16:08

    Our Press needs an independent body to oversee it and impose strict consequences on bad, agenda driven reporting. Currently the existing commissioner is funded by the press themselves and the only consequence of incorrect reporting is to issue an apology. I have seen some innocent people's careers and reputation destroyed by incorrect/sensational reporting because that is what sells. The current situation cannot continue. Saying that, we also need to protect the independence and freedom of the Press. The regulation of the press must be about ensuring responsible and factual reporting without restriction of content or subject. Parliament, Business, Political Parties, and the Press themselves must never control or influence this body. It is vital that our press independence is ensured while ensuring that they also held accountable for bad and reckless journalism.

      Yar - 2012-01-31 16:18

      Harry - we already have more than enough laws to deal with libel and misreporting. This Bill is evil in its' intent.

      Cracker - 2012-01-31 16:31

      Examples (not just one or two) of the cases you have seen would be most welcome. The ANC boasted that they would bring all the many witnesses to a parliamentary committee to testify about how they lost their jobs as a result of the factors you seem to refer to. We still wait for the witnesses. What is being propagated is an almost perfect media which will not make the mistake of wrong reporting and of course will not have an agenda. The world and democracy, and with it the protection of our freedoms, do not operate that way. If hard evidence and the revelation of sources are required for the media to avoid accusations of so-called bad and reckless reporting, we may as well throw our hands in the air and give up. Con/...

      Cracker - 2012-01-31 16:33

      Agendas? Why should for example political parties be allowed their agendas and propaganda but not others and the media? The very ANC and its allies are also known to distribute information for mass consumption. All filled with agendas. Let's not get too pedantic about it. Agendas is a fact of live, and to try to stifle it - especially in an attempt to strengthen one's own political agenda - amounts to killing freedom of expression, by others of course. The media will never be perfect but hell, what a choice of enormous good consequences over what the politicians and their surreptitious actions with this anti-media campaign and the secrecy laws have in mind for us and for this society. The truth is simple. The media would not have managed to expose so many wrong things if the media regulation and secrecy laws had been in operation.

      Harry - 2012-01-31 20:38

      @Cracker. Read my post properly where I clearly state that "We also need to protect the independence and freedom of the press". All that I am saying is that Freedom must come with responsibility. Every entity needs to be accountable for it actions or we create a situation of people/organisations becoming a law onto themselves. I will always support a free press provided that they can be held accountable for misrepresentation. I do not think that Government should be the one to appoint this tribunal nor do I think the Press should be allowed to Self Regulate as is the case currently. Nothing is stopping the press from protecting their sources or publishing stories based on evidence/ information it has gathered. That is their right and they must be allowed to do that. However, I maintain if the press publishes lies or misleads the public, then there needs to be proper independent structures in place to deal with that and allow for appropriate consequences. The Secrecy Bill is very problematic because it prevents the press from publishing classified material. The big issue with the secrecy bill is definition of what can be classified as Secret. This is the area of contention as it needs to be narrowed down to National Intelligence, military and Inland Security only.

  • Bryan - 2012-01-31 16:23

    Duarte said South Africa had to start living in the “real world... Yeah ANC government.., how about giving that a try. It would definitely be a first you bunch of thieving halfwits!!!!

  • Mark - 2012-01-31 16:57

    Ny news polluted by gvt tinkering won't be trusted. It will be like having multiple SABC's in print, for goodness sake!

  • Vince.York - 2012-01-31 18:44

    Jesse Duarte - one of that cabal that stated before a wormy way to avoid court was fully devised, that zuma WILL BE YOUR PRESIDENT by all hookery or crookery, conniving and coercion legal or not, like it or not and now desperate to ensure that throne and her personal support base is not toppled! Makes one wonder to what lengths this proposed Secrecy (Info Bill) Act will be abused alongside muzzling the press, journalists and all media or commentary as the popularity of the ANC regime dwindles rapidly and it becomes a tribal dictatorship as unpopular as paying any of the myriad kings or queens. Traditional councils' AND KINGS elections next month | News24

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