The ANC has once again called for external regulation of the media.
Jackson Mthembu‚ chairperson of the ANC NEC subcommittee on communications and ANC Chief Whip in Parliament‚ said self-regulation had failed even as the media had tried to improve their regulation.
“Self-regulation has failed and reaffirms the need for an independent regulator of the media” he said.
Mthembu was particularly unhappy with the print media‚ saying it needed to be regulated.
Mthembu was presenting the ANC policy on communications to be discussed at the ANC policy conference in June.
“Parliament must urgently undertake an inquiry into how to regulate the media‚” he said.
“We [the ANC] would like to go to Parliament to show Parliament how self-regulation has failed.”
He was asked how the media had failed to self-regulate and give examples of where media had got stories wrong‚ but failed to do. However‚ his colleagues said the rulings against media by the print ombudsman were evidence of media failures.
Mthembu used as evidence that self-regulation has failed the fact that the Independent Media group‚ which includes The Star‚ The Cape Times and The Argus newspapers‚ no longer agrees to have complaints adjudicated by the print media ombudsman.
“We are not sure how many [other media houses] are going to leave‚ [the ombudsman]“
He said there needed to “be a print media regulatory environment — that all of us can be proud of“.
Explaining ANC unhappiness with the media‚ Mthembu said: “The print media hardly recognises achievements we do make in terms of economic or social progress in any arena of our endeavours.”
He said when the ANC complained about the print media’s constant negativity and refusal to acknowledge achievements‚ they respond: “Why should you praise a fish for swimming?”
But he said the media was quick to criticise. “When that fish is unable to swim well‚ they [the media] go to town as if the fish has never swam. That is the problem.
“Give merit where merit is deserved.”
He also said that when the media had a front page story that was incorrect and an apology was printed a few weeks later‚ it would be much smaller than the original story.
“The apology will then be this very small thing [that is] not as big and pronounced as the offending article.
“It will go to page 6‚ if you are lucky‚ and not on page 1.”
The ANC has been calling for a media tribunal and external regulation of the media since before its Mangaung conference in 2012.
Government must ensure radical regulations on cross-media ownership‚ Mthembu said. He said the ANC wanted the print media to have more black ownership.
“Fundamentally ownership remains where it has always been.”
He also called for more newspapers in black African languages.
Mthembu also admitted the government was behind on rolling out digital migration of television from using analogue broadcasting — missing local deadlines and being behind internationally.