Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Parliament Rethinking Media Bill?
Let's hope this does come to full fruition, but the Parliament's home affairs committee is reportedly looking at alterations to the ominous Film and Publications Amendment Bill after the rightful flood of criticism from media, free speech NGO's and just about everyone else.

The Bill, created to provide Government with ways to clamp down child pornography publications, had the potential dual role of clamping down on free speech and a free press, by forcing the press to "go for prepublication clearance for reports and pictures that deal with matters of sex and possible hate speech". This is a fairly broad definition. Could criticisim of a future Government be construed as "hate speech"?

As an op-ed piece in the Business Day by Anton Harber quite correctly points out, a very similar law was used by the apartheid government to slowly increase its strangle-hold on the South African press.

Let's hope that the Parliamentary committee can find the correct line on this. I think the mainstream press has mobilised quite well to provide intelligent and constructuve feedback to the committee, now it's their turn.