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Print media 'need to be controlled'

06 July 2017 - 07:01 By THABO MOKONE
ANC Parliamentary Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu addresses the media during the ANC Policy conference held at Nasrec.
ANC Parliamentary Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu addresses the media during the ANC Policy conference held at Nasrec.
Image: Masi Losi/Sunday Times

ANC policy conference delegates have called for parliament to implement urgently a proposal that a media appeals tribunal and regulatory body be established for the print media.

This is according to ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu, who is also head of the ANC's sub-committee on communications.

The media and the communications industry were discussed at the party's national policy conference in Johannesburg.

Briefing journalists, Mthembu said the print media were a "powerful tool that could effect even a regime change" and had to be held accountable.

The proposal that a media appeals tribunal and regulatory body be set up was adopted at the ANC's national conference in Mangaung in 2012 but the government has stalled its implementation in the face of objections by media houses, which said the move was a threat to press freedom.

Mthembu said the policy conference delegates had urged parliament to inquire into how best to regulate and hold the print media accountable.

"What the commission has said is that the inquiry must happen now," said Mthembu.

"We have not changed. We will put our view on how print media should be regulated."

Mthembu said delegates argued that if parliament had the power to appoint leaders of constitutional structures, such as the public protector, and the human rights and electoral commissions, it should have comparable authority in respect of the print media.

"Would it be too much against media freedom if we were to think along these lines? I am not advancing an ANC view, I'm just advancing what was being said in the commissions."

Mthembu said the ANC was committed to freedom of media and this move should not been seen as attack on them.

The print media have come under attack recently after exposing the influence of the Gupta family in government affairs.

Entities such as Black First Land First have attacked journalists at their homes.

Mthembu distanced the ANC from the BLF and called for the immediate arrest of those of its members involved in intimidation.

Watch: Mthembu says ANC will defend journalists right to write stories

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu on Wednesday briefed the media on the outcomes of the communication commission at the ANC’s national policy conference in Johannesburg. He spoke about the intimidation of journalists and the Black First Land First movement’s recent protests outside journalists’ houses. Subscribe to TimesLIVE here: https://www.youtube.com/user/TimesLive

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