SACP supports ANC's media tribunal plan

Party says proposal will strengthen twin imperatives of media freedom and public accountability

SACP Statement on an Independent Media Tribunal

The SACP wishes to reiterate its full support to the call by the ANC for the establishment of an independent media tribunal as part of strengthening the twin imperatives of media freedom and public accountability.

It has been our view over the last few years that whilst media freedom is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, and must be protected and defended, self- regulation by the media of itself is hopelessly inadequate. It is one of the fundamental tenets of our constitutional democracy that appropriate checks and balances in exercising our democratic rights must always be put in place.

Whilst the media is not a public institution per se, it nevertheless plays a critical role in informing the public. Therefore it is absolutely essential that an independent body through which complaints about the media can be speedily processed through an affordable process be set up.

The Press Ombuds is inadequate. It is a body appointed by the media and made up of people from within the ranks of the media to judge itself. In addition, the requirements of the Press Ombuds for complainants to waive their legal right to seek recourse through the courts once a complaint is lodged through the Ombuds is, in our view, not only unconstitutional but also not adequate for purposes of lodging complaints about the media.

Whilst every South African has a right to directly approach the courts for relief where they feel their rights have been violated by the media, this is an expensive route that is simply beyond the means of the overwhelming majority of South Africans.  It also is a very lengthy process that is unable to provide prompt redress to protect the integrity of those who feel their rights have been violated.

The SACP will mandate its delegation to the forthcoming ANC National General Council to raise this matter and ask for measures to be urgently put in place to create such an independent media tribunal. In addition we shall also be mandating our delegation to urge the ANC and government to accelerate the transformation and diversification of media in our country.

Statement issued by the South African Communist Party, July 19 2010

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