Policy and Regulatory
Extensive work has been done in this area.
SANEF’s media policy work aims to shape the future we want for the media in South Africa – particularly on issues related to freedom of expression and access to information. The key word to focus on is “open”: to campaign for #opengovernment, #opendata, #openbudget, #openjustice, #openregulation, #openelections, etc.
One of the biggest achievements of the past year was progress with media efforts to establish access to the internet as a basic human right, with seven key initiatives:
- Implementation of government policy to provide free internet access at government sites such as schools and libraries;
- Zero-rated access to government websites and data, as envisaged in official e-government policies;
- Free wifi as a basic municipal service and run as a public utility alongside the provision of water and electricity;
- Minimum standards for free internet access, including for such offers by commercial operators;
- My i-Rights: every citizen should be entitled to a daily tranche of free internet access to exercise their digital access to information and online communication rights;
- Digital literacy programmes in education curricula; and
- Oversight by the SA Human Rights Commission on the progressive realisation of free internet access rights.
SANEF plans to meet with Commissioner Lawrence Mute, the new Special Rapporteur on Access to Information and Freedom of Expression in Africa, ideally when he is visiting South Africa, to discuss current efforts to update the African Declaration on Principles of Freedom of Expression to reflect developments regarding access to information and digital rights. SANEF and the The Africa Editors’ Forum (TAEF) should actively participate in the consultation process of the review and the expansion of the Declaration.
With the recent publication of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights’ Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa, there is a need for SANEF to work with TAEF on a media code for Africa on covering elections.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has expressed interest in working with SANEF in terms of the SADC principles of fair and balanced election coverage and arranging a media workshop later in 2018. A meeting with political parties before next year’s elections, should be arranged, ideally with decision makers like party leaders.
A smaller meeting with the IEC can be arranged – where some of the issues can be discussed like the safety of journalists.
Parliament’s Draft Communication Policy
There are some concerns about Parliament’s draft Communications Policy which proposes that Parliament runs its own news agency and radio news services alongside the current live streams on YouTube and on the Parliamentary channel. The same Parliamentary PR team will be tasked to also run the editorial services, thereby creating a clear conflict of interest. This must be blocked in its current form. Also, Parliament wants broadcasters and others taking its live feeds to either pay for it or carry a branded feed. Media houses however are objecting to paying for these services – Parliament should be for the people and it does not make sense that we pay when taxpayers already pay. SANEF submitted a detailed input on the draft policies and requested Parliament to further consult the media before implementing the policies.
The workshop with the Information Regulator is happening on the 29th of June. Discussions at the workshop will include legislation and media concerns about the proposed POPIA regulations.
Film and Publications Amendment Bill
On the FPB Amendment Bill, SANEF will, together with the IAB, Press Council and MMA make further submissions to address key outstanding issues.
On Online Regulation, the Press Council extended its mandate to cover online media after consultations in January 2016. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is organising a round table on this, together with the NAB, BCCSA, IAB and the Press Council.
Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill
On the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill (old National Key Points law) submissions were made with amaBhungane. SANEF promoted the principle of a public interest override to allow journalists and others to access information if it is in the public interest. SANEF has also been pushing for a “carve out” clause in the legislation to ensure that SABC journalists are not subject to security vetting.
SABC Board appointments
A call was made from members that SANEF should take up the fight on how the SABC board is appointed. The current process favours self-serving politicians.
In terms of the Secrecy Bill, this is back on President Ramaphosa’s desk. However, there is very little room to fix the problems with the Bill. Ex-President Zuma referred the Bill back to Parliament but on very narrow grounds. These grounds will not fix the Bill. The problem now is that the Bill cannot be referred back to Parliament again. There is now no easy way forward. The suggestion is to get further legal advice. The Right2Know (R2K) campaign believes that Ramaphosa will ignore the Bill for the moment because of all the complications.
For more information on policy and regulatory issues contact:
Izak Minnaar – Izak.Minnaar@gmail.com
Kate Skinner – firstname.lastname@example.org