Parliament's legal advisors on Tuesday joined media organisations in criticising certain provisions in the draft Films and Publications Amendment Bill.
Briefing the National Assembly's home affairs committee, parliamentary legal adviser Refilwe Mathabathe said that if enacted in its current form, the Bill would see the Films and Publications Board (FPB) become a broadcast-media regulator.
Among other things, the Bill's provisions mean that print and online media will have to submit all news reports containing descriptions of sexual assault, indecent assault and rape to the classification committee before publication.
"If one has further regard to the definition of 'sexual conduct', all articles on sexual intercourse, regardless as to whether they are educational, artistic or literary works, will have to be submitted to the classification committee."
The same difficulty will arise in respect of any news report, photograph or article dealing with or depicting declarations of war, violent demonstrations, violent incidents or civil unrest, because of the requirement that descriptions of "propaganda for war" or "incitement to imminent violence" will have to be submitted to the publications committee for classification.
"The effect of these provisions is that expression deserving of constitutional protection will now be subject to governmental approval, contrary to the very tenets of freedom of expression," Sanef said.
full story from M&G here