So here’s proof that when we stand up together, we can really make a difference. Remember that Avaaz petition that I posted? Well check out what Times Live had to say about it’s effect.

Media grateful for support


South African media organisations have welcomed the support shown by ordinary citizens against the proposed Protection of Information Bill and the Media Appeals Tribunal.

Last week civil organisations sent a petition to ANC officials during the national general council condemning what they viewed as a huge threat to media freedom, which is a “key aspect of SA’s young democracy”.

Media organisation Avaaz started the petition last Wednesday and had garnered 30276 signatures against the ANC’s proposal by yesterday.

SA National Editors’ Forum chairman Mondli Makhanya said the media was encouraged by the support from civil society, who will also be greatly affected by both proposals.

“We’ve been emphasising all along that the fight against the tribunal and secrecy bill was not just about journalists and the media, but about the public’s right to know. Media freedom is not ours only,” he said.

Makhanya said the uproar against the proposed media regulatory body had forced the ministry of state security to “tone down the bill” and for the ANC to “rethink” aspects of the tribunal.

“They’ve since withdrawn some of the clauses because one of the main concerns was the broadness of the term ‘national interest’.”

Makhanya said the fact that they saw fit to change it shows the power of the public’s voice.

William Bird, the director of Media Monitoring Africa, said South Africans needed to engage on how best to curb the statutory nature of the media appeals tribunal.

“We know that our current systems [as media] are not 100%, but that does not warrant the statutory nature of the media appeals tribunal,” he said.

“Our focus should be on strengthening the media, as opposed to stifling it, and keeping regulation independent. There will definitely be a substantial change in the media landscape – whether by putting the tribunal into effect or by coming up with a stronger self-regulatory system.”

  • Meanwhile, the ANC caucus in Parliament will initiate processes to investigate the formation of the proposed media tribunal – but it is not known how long this will take.

The party’s spokesman, Ishmael Mnisi, said after the ANC resolved for the regulatory body to be formed, it was then up to parliament to determine the start of the process.

“The ANC caucus in parliament will initiate the process and make submissions to the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications, and after that, debates will escalate,” Mnisi said.

The Times understands that the proposal says the intended body would be independent of both the media and politicians, and would have appropriate punitive measures that exclude pre-publication censorship.

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