Johannesburg, October 5, 2015-The ruling ANC in South Africa is forging ahead with setting up a Media Appeals Tribunal. The party says parliament will have to fast track legislation to establish the body, after this weekend’s National General Council.
The Appeals Tribunal would be a forum which print media will have to account to and victims of unethical journalism can seek recourse.
The ANC argues that like broadcast media is accountable to ICASA, the Press also needs to account to a body outside of itself.
The party resolved to set up a media appeals tribunal at the 2007 Polokwane Conference and nearly 8 years later the tribunal only exists on paper. The matter is firmly back on its agenda it will be one of the key issues at the party’s National General Council this week.
The party admits though that it’s been slow in translating the ANC policy into government policy.
ANC national executive committee member Lindiwe Zulu says, “there has to be a balance in all areas, the media can’t sit there on their own and say no we know how to regulate ourselves. What we have seen in the past 10 years shows that it is important that that media tribunal is finalised.”
The ANC proposes that the tribunal be accountable to parliament. The current adjudication structure is co-regulation between representatives of the press and public. But fears are that state regulation could amount to some serious political interference.
Group Editor: Opinion & Analysis at Independent Media, Vukani Mde says, “ self regulation by and large does not work. It is not satisfactory to all stakeholders. So you have to find a middle ground. What for me would be a logical way is an independent regulation. That it is outside the hands of the media and also the state.”
The ANC’s Tripartite Alliance partner, The South African Communist Party (SACP) also at odds with the ANC on a state-led media appeals tribunal. At the weekend it also emphasised the importance of having an independent tribunal.
SACP general secretary, Blade Nzimande says, “We don’t want state regulation, but we want independent regulation as it actually happens in broadcast to a certain extent. But print media in particular is refusing that.”
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) believes that current recourse available through the Press Ombudsman and Press Council is sufficient.
For now only time will tell, whether a Media Appeals Tribunal will see the light of day – after the NGC