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Thread: Publication bill can gag the media.

  1. #1
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Publication bill can gag the media.

    A controversial bill that brings censorship back to South Africa has drawn a lot of criticism.

    Branded by many as an assault on the freedom of speech and the press, the bill is typical of the first steps of repressive legislation enacted by a state to inhibit criticism of the government.

    Just as the loss of equality before the law was hung on the peg of redressing the racial history of our country (ie. if you oppose, you must be a racist), this bill has been hung on the peg of child pornography (ie. if you oppose, you are a child pornographer).

    It seems the bill introduces control measures for the media in general. This affects the internet and also makes provision for control of the print media. Not surprisingly, the print media sees this particular aspect a major problem, but to my mind the control of the internet, which enables ordinary citizens to publish their news and opinions is possibly an even more serious assault on our freedoms.

    Some have said that, being in flagrant contravention of our constitution, we can expect the bill to be rejected by the constitutional court. I am not so confident.

    We have already seen government's response to the constitutional challenge to EE and BEE practices - the constitution was amended to allow for "fair" racial, sexual (and potentially even religious) discrimination. On track record, we can probably expect the same in respect of the provisions for the freedom of speech and the press.

    The tactic is plain - by focusing on an exceptionally narrow need, the government is enabling exceptionally wide powers available for use as and whenever they need it. Government will probably say "Trust us to use this power responsibly", but how can we trust a cabinet that has actually endorsed this bill?

    We all need to speak out against this assault on one of the cornerstones of a healthy democracy - freedom of speech. Add your voice here, and keep an eye out for the opportunity to express your rejection of this bill elsewhere.

    Let's keep each other posted of where and when we can let government know that this bill is totally unacceptable.
    Last edited by Dave A; 03-Sep-06 at 09:16 AM.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    What are the practical ways to go about adding our (my) voice to the concern around this?

    Also, do you know of any summaries that cover the important points of the bill?
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    Administrator I Robot's Avatar
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    Something of an update here. It seems the bill has not been published yet, but has got past cabinet. Based on a few recent issues such as the airport renaming issue, getting this through parliament from here is pretty well a formality.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Some media comment here from News 24.

    It seems the media is already feeling persecuted.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    I've just worked out that the internet already falls under the Film and Publications Act of 1996 (as ammended in 1999 and 2004).

    Whatever it is that the press fears from coming under the Film and Publications Act, the internet is already there.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    This controversial bit of legislation is back in the news. Some snippets from an article on M&G:
    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
    I think the paragraph I've marked in red shows the real danger here.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    I am really concerned.

    If we do not wish to join a "political" party and be an active party member, how can we make our objections known and more importantly, how can we make sure that our objections are heard and considered.

    We are losing our civil liberties - and worse, seem to have lost the belief that we can do anything to prevent it.

    For example: I for one absolutely refuse to permit any relative of mine to be taught awareness of Gay and Lesbian issues at school - FULL STOP -.
    Gays and lesbians have their rights - in full.
    My right is to demand that they keep it private!
    When we permit the state to dictate right down to the level of sexual education for our children - we have gone way past accepted levels of governace in my opinion.

    Slowly, slowly laws are being put in place, which are surely unacceptable to most thinking South Africans.

    Frog in boiling water?

    Yvonne

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Media score victory as Bill is revised

    I don't know how much of a fight it was, but the print and bradcast media have won exemption from the Publications Bill.
    The media on Thursday scored a major victory following a ruling by the portfolio committee on home affairs exempting print and broadcast media from provisions of the controversial Film and Publications Bill.

    Committee chairperson Patrick Chauke said the decision to reinsert media exemption in the measure was a culmination of robust engagement between the committee, the media and other stakeholders.

    "This outcome was informed by the engagement with stakeholders -- it is evidence that this Parliament of South Africa is not a rubber stamp, but a Parliament that takes people's views very seriously," he said.

    Had the committee not revised the Bill, the measure would have compelled print and broadcast media to submit certain stories to the Film and Publication Board (FPB) before publication -- something to which the media had strongly objected, as it would have amounted to pre-publication censorship.

    The Bill, aimed primarily at cracking down on child pornography, provides that any content that is sexual in nature, or that can be deemed incitement to war or defined as hate speech, will have to be passed by the board prior to publication.
    full story from M&G here
    Internet as media is not exempt, so if you wish to post content that may be deemed to have sexual content, incitement to war or hate speech, please run it past the Film and Publication Board first.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Silver Member Eugene's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yvonne Symons View Post

    Slowly, slowly laws are being put in place, which are surely unacceptable to most thinking South Africans.

    Frog in boiling water?

    I quite agree - we are being de-sensitized on a regular basis by all organs of state, which also includes the media (printed, bradcasting or internet). 20 Years ago we would have been outraged by a kid being murdered (just thinking of the Dina Rodriquez case), but nowadays as we read so much of it in the papers that we just read it in passing with a though of "so damn sad" and pass on to the next news item. My personal opinion is that in South Africa is that we are being overregulated by so many apparant "useless" Acts that see the light. Problem is: any Tom Dick and Harry can get a Bill passed in Parliament, but who will be there to police it. An Act not being policed is in my view useless. Having that said, yes, there are a couple of Act which fully attracts my support, but they are far and wide between...

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    Email problem stephanfx's Avatar
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    I am glad for forums such as these, for they keep me on my toes, sometimes I miss these things but eventually pick it up here.

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