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Sanef statement on regulation of digital content and the draft policy of the Film and Publications B

Sanef Statement 25 March 2015

The SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has since last year been involved in discussions with the SA Press Council, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the National Association of Broadcasters as well as the BCCSA in trying to format a self regulatory regime for digital content published by media organisations.

The primary aim of these efforts is to ensure editorial content generated and carried on digital platforms is ethical, fair and protects vulnerable groups such as children, but also provide a legitimate vehicle through which aggrieved parties can turn to for redress arising from such content.

To this extent a joint code of conduct as well as a complaints mechanism for print and digital media are being worked on. Such a system will for the time being not include traditional broadcasting due to the statutory nature of their licenses and complaints mechanisms, but a single access point to all the regulatory bodies is one of the options under discussion. Sanef and the other bodies are planning a conference for later this year where the code and regulatory system would be debated and adopted.

Sanef notes that the Film and Publications Board (FPB), which carries the statutory responsibility to protect children and other categories of vulnerable media consumers from harmful content, has produced a draft code on regulating digital content for discussion and comments by the public.

Sanef wishes to place it on record that as a key industry player it was never consulted by the FPB in the development of this draft, despite claims by the FPB that “the FPB consulted extensively with industry, civil society and key stakeholders”. We also know that the IAB was not consulted despite being the foremost body of digital platform content producers.

Sanef is engaging the FPB on the draft with the aim of ensuring that the industry should be allowed the space to produce a self-regulatory mechanism instead of one imposed by a statutory body, particularly as the present draft proposes measures that infringe on freedom of expression.

In particular, the draft proposes prior classification of all digital content and not just films and games, which patently infringes on the right to publish. Sanef will also be challenging the limited time provided for comments as the deadline is March 31. A meeting between Sanef and the FPB is scheduled for April 9.

For Inquiries
Chris Roper, Chairperson Sanef Convergence & Digital sub-committee 0832772082