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Parliament's legal advisors on Tuesday joined media organisations in criticising certain provisions in the draft Films and Publications Amendment Bill.
Briefing the National Assembly's home affairs committee, Parliamentary legal advisor Refilwe Mathabathe, said if enacted in its current form, the bill would see the Films and Publications Board (FPB) become a broadcast media regulator.
"Section 192 of the Constitution recognises only the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) as a regulator.
"It would therefore be unconstitutional to bring broadcasters under the FPB," she said.
Mathabane also raised concern about section 16 of the draft bill, saying if left unchanged, the provision compelled newspapers to submit all their stories to FPB before publication.
"This amounts to censorship," she said.
FPB chief executive Shokie Bopape-Dlomo conceded the organisation would not have the capacity to go through all the newspapers stories before they were published.
"This was not the intention of the bill, I think it is the wording in that section that has created a misunderstanding," she said.
However she disagreed it would be unconstitutional to allow the FPB to examine television programmes.
"Our view is that since Icasa's role is mainly that of licensing, the FPB could complement that role by checking the actual content of broadcast material," she said.
However, Mathabathe disagreed, saying Bopape-Dlomo's interpretation of Icasa's functions was "too limited".
"The constitution states that Icasa should regulate in the public interest - this gives the regulator the power not only to issue licences but to deal with issues of content as well.
"The FPB does not have the authority to co-regulate with Icasa," she said.
Designed to crack down on child pornography and abuse, the bill is currently being deliberated on by the National Assembly's home affairs committee.
Chairman of the committee Patrick Chauke said because the bill touched on the "sensitive" issues of press freedom, the committee would have to tread carefully.
"We won't rush, we will take our time and consider all the submissions and opinions before voting on the bill," he said. - Sapa