Draft Online Regulation Policy Criticised

This month’s gazetted draft online regulation policy by the Film and Publication Board (FPB) that could potentially curtail online freedom of expression has been criticised for its lack of engagement by the industry’s main body.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau South Africa (IAB) says it has seen an earlier unreleased draft of the policy document and has written to the FPB to raise its concerns about the process and proposed regulations, requesting an opportunity to meet with the FPB to make formal submissions.

Electronic Communication Cut Ahead of SONA

Electronic communication from parliament was cut for several hours ahead of President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation speech on 12 February 2014.

A signal scrambler, said to belong to the military, was found in the press gallery at the National Assembly.

The device prevented journalists - who chanted “Bring Back Our Signal” - MPs and the public from making cellphone calls or tweeting from the parliamentary precinct.

Censorship by South African Film and Publication Board

The Film and Publication Board's rigid and simplistic interpretation of the law seems to mean that even a film that exposes and opposes child abuse might be banned. We are in a Catch-22 situation: we want to discuss whether this film promotes or helps prevent abuse, but we are prevented from seeing it to decide that. We are expected to simply trust the Board and, given our history of the abuse of censorship powers, that is not going to happen.

ICASA Overturns Motsoeneng’s ‘censorship’

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has overturned the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s decision not to broadcast the burning of public institutions because it would incite protestors to run amok.

ICASA acting chairperson, Rubben Mohlaloga, points out that the Complaints and Compliance Committee has found the SABC has overstepped its authority and gave it seven days to reverse its decision.

​Public Broadcaster Sinks Into Crisis

The decision by the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) chief operations officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, to ban coverage of violent protests and the suspensions of three senior news employees has led to an increasing sense of mutiny from staff and management.

According to Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni, as three senior SABC employees fight for their jobs after they were suspended for protesting against what they saw as increasing censorship at the state broadcaster, a group of concerned SABC news staff sent a letter of grievances to the chief operating officer.

Cabinet Approves Film and Publications Bill

Cabinet has approved the submission of the Films and Publications Amendment Bill which is guided by policy that has been criticised for seeking to curb internet freedoms.

A cabinet statement says the bill seeks to amend the Films and Publications Act of 1996 by adapting it to technological advances.

These changes include catering for online and social media platforms “in order to protect children from being exposed to disturbing and harmful media content in all platforms (physical and online).”

SANEF Condemns Removal of Photos

The South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) condemns the removal of photographs, showing the African National Congress (ANC) T-shirts being carried in a Gauteng traffic police vehicle, from a reporter's cellphone.
In a press statement, chairperson of SANEF, Mpumelelo Mkhabela, says that, "SANEF condemns the harassment of an eNCA journalist by a VIP policeman guarding President Jacob Zuma while he was pursuing his election campaign."

Bloggers Protest the Blocking of Websites

According to Peter Adamu, a sizeable group of people calling themselves Zambian bloggers protested against the blocking of two critical website - Zambian Watchdog and Zambia Report - from domestic access in the country.

Adamu reports that the country’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) government has hired Chinese and Russian squads to block websites writing on events in Zambia and exposing corruption of President Michael Sata and his family.

Freedom of Expression Institute: Research Intern

The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) was formed in 1994 to defend freedom of expression, to oppose censorship and to promote media diversity.

FXI seeks to to recruit a part-time Research Intern, based in Johannesburg.

FXI is offering an exciting internship opportunity within its Research Unit for recent graduates who are passionate about human rights and freedom of expression to contribute and gain invaluable experience in the sector.


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