‘Media freedom is your freedom’

4 May 2006

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) marked World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, by launching a “media freedom is your freedom” campaign geared to highlight the value of a free media in the young South African democracy.

“Ours is an often-raucous democracy where a thousand opinions contend,” Sanef said in a statement on Wednesday. “A key reason for this is that our media have been unshackled from its draconian past.”

The multimedia campaign – with an advertising drive sub-titled “What you can’t see, can hurt you” – invites the public to take part in debates on radio, television, online and in print media, and to visit the Sanef website to find out more.

Sanef paid tribute to the 500 journalists and publishers around the world who were killed or arrested in 2005 for doing their jobs, and deplored the “continued arrests and detention of many of our colleagues across the continent”, saying Africa would not achieve its emancipation if journalists were not free.

In South Africa, Sanef said it would “continue to press for the amendment of laws which continue to impact on the free flow of information.”

At the same time, the body welcomed President Thabo Mbeki’s decision to return the Icasa (Independendent Communications Authority of SA) Amendment Bill to Parliament because he was concerned that it could be unconstitutional.

Critics of the Bill, including Sanef, argue that it would strip the country’s communications regulator of its independence by taking the power of selecting Icasa councillors out of the hands of Parliament and placing it in the hands of the minister of communications.

“The media are your eyes and ears on the world,” Sanef says in its campaign. “Media freedom guarantees your right to know what’s going on in your country, and participate fully in the decisions affecting you.

“Media freedom is your freedom. Insist on it.”

SouthAfrica.info reporter

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