The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) had never had
complaints about child pornography from licensed broadcasters, even
though child pornography remained the focus of the controversial Films
and Publications Bill, a parliamentary committee has heard, writes Wyndham Hartley in Business Day.

The bill removes prepublication classification exemptions for the news media under the guise of further clamping down on child pornography, despite the fact that it is already a crime.

Media and press freedom organisations have challenged the bill for being unconstitutional in tampering with the enshrined freedom of the press.

Parliament’s home affairs committee meeting yesterday came less than a day after Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad assured Parliament that the government had no intention of tampering with media freedom and would take protests against the relevant clauses seriously.

MPs have shown themselves to be preoccupied with the notion of child pornography and the publication and broadcast of adult material in such a way that it can be accessed by children.

It fell to media lawyer Ashoek Adhikari, representing publishers and editors, to point out that there was a clear difference between child pornography and the exposure of children to pornography.

“They are not the same thing,” he told the committee.

Icasa councillor Kobus van Rooyen said that the council had not experienced “any problems with child pornography with licensed broadcasters”.

He said child pornography was already illegal while explicit adult material needed permission before it could be broadcast.

“It is interesting that this bill is focusing on child pornography when it has not been a problem in South African broadcasting,” said Van Rooyen.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.