44% say bill curbs freedoms

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Copy of info bill INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File photo - A Right To Know protest outside Parliament. Photo: Neil Baynes

Despite a public consultation drive and a government-sponsored media blitz lauding the Protection of State Information Bill, 44 percent of South Africans believe it would curb media freedom, a survey has found.

The survey, carried out in April and May by research company Ipsos, found that a mere 13 percent of South Africans thought the bill would not limit media freedom, while 14 percent had no opinion and almost a third, 29 percent, were neutral.

Ipsos spokeswoman Mari Harris said the “right to know” appeared to be valued as “very important in our fairly young democracy”.

Although opinions varied along party lines, with 51 percent of DA supporters believing the bill would limit media freedom, even among supporters of the ruling ANC, 44 percent agreed it would do so.

During the survey, 3 565 South Africans aged 15 years and older were questioned in personal interviews in their homes.

Harris said the survey sample was representative of the entire population in rural and urban areas

More than 61 percent of respondents agreed that access to information and a free media were basic human rights, while 62 percent of ANC supporters and 68 percent of DA supporters held this view. Nine percent disagreed with the statement, while 5 percent said they did not know and 25 percent remained neutral.

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