Political parties and media bodies have welcomed recommendations for a new mechanism to regulate print media more effectively.
The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) said on Wednesday that the Press Freedom Commission's (PFC) recommendation for an independent co-regulation of the press was important because it “clearly rejected” any involvement of political parties or state officials.
“The changes go considerably further than those proposed by Sanef and most individual editors, but we believe they will result in important improvements to the regulatory system.”
The Inkatha Freedom Party said the recommendations “will go a long way towards strengthening South Africa's free press”.
“We are particularly pleased to note that our recommendation on the need to create a unique South African regulatory system in the form of an independent co-regulation system, was taken on board,” IFP MPL Joshua Mazibuko said in a statement.
National Press Club chairman Yusuf Abramjee said the recommendations set out in the report were crucial for print media in the country.
“The report addresses problems currently being experienced and paves the way for across the board standards in the print media.”
Abramjee said he was encouraged by the ANC's initial response to the PFC's report.
“It appears that they are happy with the recommendations and we hope they will accept it and finally drop their media tribunal proposal.”
African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the party welcomed the report, which had “taken everybody out of their comfort zone”.
In the report, the PFC recommends greater public participation in a system of independent co-regulation between the public and press, without state or government involvement.
It proposes a system of people drawn mostly from various sections of the public outside the press industry to ensure independence.
This was in response to the public dissatisfaction with the existing system and complaints of shoddy journalism, a perception that complaints against the media were not being properly resolved and the public's rejection of government involvement.
The report follows a series of hearings earlier this year led by former chief justice Pius Langa.
It contains a number of recommendations, including changes to the Press Code to clarify court reporting rules and how to report on children. - Sapa