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Press Council

Why is there a Press Council?

We believe in freedom of speech and expression, including freedom of the media, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. We exist to ensure that that media freedom is maintained and furthered. To ensure that media coverage is FAIR , we adopt a Code of Ethics and Conduct for South African Print and Online Media (the Press Code in short). The Press Council uses this Code to hold the press accountable and to guide journalists in their daily practice of gathering and distributing news and opinion.

Why do we need regulation?

We believe the media should be regulated to ensure quality, ethical journalism, the main aim of which is to avoid causing any unnecessary harm. This regulation should neither be governed nor funded by the state, but by the media themselves, in co-operation with the public. We believe independent co-regulation is the only way to ensure the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press and other media, as guaranteed in the Constitution of the Republic. Any other form of regulation would threaten the independence of the media and freedom of expression to the detriment of society. Our system is independent, voluntary and co-regulated by media and the public.

What is the Press Council’s mandate?

The Press Council deals with complaints from the public against media publications that subscribe to the Press Code. We provide impartial, expeditious and cost-effective mediation and adjudication of disputes over the editorial content of newspapers, magazines and online publications We only deal with editorial matters and not with advertisements. Complaints regarding advertisements are dealt with by the Advertising Regulatory Board. Complaints relating to radio and television broadcasts are dealt with by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa.

How is the Press Council constituted?

The associations which constitute the Press Council are: the SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef), the Forum of Community Journalists (FCJ), the Association of Independent Publishers (AIP), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau South Africa (IABSA), representing online media.

What is the Press Council’s composition?

The Press Council is chaired by a retired judge, appointed following a recommendation by the Chief Justice of South Africa. He is joined by six individuals representing members of the constituent bodies, as well as six individuals, representing the public. Each constituent member chooses its own representative; positions filled by the public are advertised and appointed by the Appointments Panel, which is a sub-committee of the Council, and is chaired by a retired judge on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of South Africa.

Which officers does the Press Council employ and what are their duties?

The Press Council employs an Executive Director who manages the office; a Public Advocate who receives complaints and acts on behalf of complainants (negotiating with publications on your behalf to attempt a settlement); and a Press Ombud and two Deputy Press Ombuds who adjudicate complaints. We also employ a Case Manager, a Financial Controller and an Office Manager/Assistant to the Executive Director. 

How are we funded?

We are funded by the media industry itself.