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FXI WELCOMES AMENDED BROADCASTING LAW

Calling it a major victory for freedom of expression and editorial independence, the Free Expression Institute (FXI) has welcomed recent changes to a proposed broadcasting law that have calmed critics' fears of increased government interference in South Africa's public broadcaster.

Following public hearings earlier this month where organisations, including FXI and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), criticised the proposed Broadcasting Amendment Bill, the South African Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications has dropped a clause that would have required the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to submit a set of policies ensuring "accurate, accountable and fair reporting" to the Minister of Communications.

Instead, the proposed bill now says the SABC must establish a Code of Practice that ensures its services and personnel meet a high standard of accuracy, fairness and impartiality in news and programmes that deal with matters of public interest, says FXI. The public broadcaster would also be required to seek public input in developing its programming.

The committee has also reinstated a clause guaranteeing freedom of expression and journalistic, creative and programming independence in the proposed bill, notes FXI. The bill is expected to be signed into law by the end of this year.

Read FXI's report on the bill: www.save-public-broadcasting.org">http://www.save-public-broadcasting.org/countries/safrica.htm">www.save-public-broadcasting.org

Visit these links:

- FXI: http://fxi.org.za">http://fxi.org.za">http://fxi.org.za

- MISA South Africa Alerts: www.misa.org


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