Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, June 01, 2007

Media Victory
It's an encouraging development to see that Government has decided to accede to pressure from the media and free speech NGO's on the ominous Film and Publications Bill. Encouraging in that we hear so much of Government 'not caring' about the will of its publics, yet hear we see it listening and adapting.

You'll remember that the Film and Publications Bill was drafted to clamp down on child pornography, but had draconian possibilities in clamping down on the media's freedom of speech. There was a large outcry from media houses and from NGO's and the portfolio committee on home affairs announced yesterday that it is exempting print and broadcast media from provisions of the bill.

Committee chairperson Patrick Chauke said that he hoped this would provide "evidence that this Parliament of South Africa is not a rubber stamp, but a Parliament that takes people's views very seriously".

One wonders if this wasn't a very shrewd effort by Government to make a big statement to the media that it needs to self-regulate itself when it comes to images of children in publications. The bill was brought into fruition after complaints were made about certain newspapers tabloid printing pictures of young children in its pages. Perhaps this was just an elephant's mock charge...