The current Film and Publications Act regulates films and publications other than the news media by censorship and classification measures which determine the age groups precluded from viewing certain films and which publications should be prohibited or how they should be displayed in stores. A clause in that Act exempted the media from its provisions thus enabling the print and broadcast news media to operate freely and without interference or pre-publication censorship. That exemption is to be removed in the amending legislation.
“If this proposal is accepted by parliament, the effect will be that the print and broadcast media will be subjected to the dictates of the Film and Publications board. The practical effects will be that the media will be subjected to pre-publication censorship, probably forced to expunge large amounts of their news coverage from their pages or broadcasts and submit to procedures which will prevent papers from being distributed on a daily or weekly basis and result in broadcasters having to delay news broadcasts. The fact that the Bill makes provision for exemption matters little, as to impose this duty on the media amounts to seeking licence to publish,” say the the National Editors’ Forum, the Freedom of Expression Institute and the Media Institute of Southern Africa.
All submissions opposing the Bill need to be submitted by October 6.