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ASHLEY SLAMAT ATTORNEYS  – no games, Just Law™

Media law is that branch of South Africa’s substantive law which deals with the various aspects of the legality of the media, also known as the press.

Cursorily, media law involves the following aspects of the law in regard to freedom of speech (and freedom from censorship) in the context of the Constitution:

  1. print media;
  2. digital media;
  3. broadcasting and telecommunications;
  4. the Film and Publications industry including the regulation of pornography;
  5. court reporting duties of the media and it’s concomitant responsibilities;
  6. delictual or tort liability of the media for defamation, insult or crimen injuria;
  7. advertising law and the promotion of fair competition via the media;
  8. interception and monitoring of communications by the media;
  9. disclosure of information and whistle-blowing in the media;
  10. restrictions of the information pertaining to state security.

Obviously, media law is vital and essential in any constitutional democracy as it protects the rights of citizens to freedom of speech and also their freedom to unpopular speech. George Orwell once said that “if freedom of speech means anything, then it means that right to tell a man something which he does not want to hear”. Consequently, unpopular speech is absolutely vital for the health of any free nation.

Furthermore, media law is imperative in the protection and promotion of the right not be subjected to censorship by the will of the State (or it’s agents) in permitting it’s citizens to know only what it wants citizens to know. In this context, the right to decide for oneself (and not to be regarded as a sheep) is an absolute inherent human right. Undoubtedly, media law is the fulcrum of free speech.

In South Africa, certain pieces of legislation (in whole or in part) may be regarded as an infringement of the right to freedom of speech (including its other inherent rights), these laws being, inter alia, the following:

  1. Official Secrets Act 16 of 1956;
  2. Protection of Information Act 84 of 1982;
  3. Internal Security Act 74 of 1982;
  4. Petroleum Products Act 120 of 1977;
  5. National Supplies Procurement Act 89 of 1970;
  6. National Key Points Act 102 of 1980;
  7. Post Office Act 44 of 1958
  8. Interception and Monitoring Prohibition Act 127 of 1992;
  9. Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Act 70 of 2002 (RICA)

While the following laws may be regarded as forms of protection of the rights of freedom of speech (including its other inherent rights) and the right not be censored:

  1. Protected Disclosures Act 26 of 2000;
  2. Telegraph Messages Act 44 of 1963;
  3. Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (sections 189(1), section 205(1) and (4);
  4. Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000;
  5. Public Protector Act 23 of 1994 (formerly known as the Ombudsman in terms of the Ombudsman Act 118 of 1979 and the Advocate General in terms of the Advocate General Act 118 of 1979;
  6. Explosives Act 26 of 1956;
  7. Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act 43 of 1983;
  8. Human Tissue Act 65 of 1983;
  9. Electronic Communications & Transactions Act 25 of 2002;
  10. Electronic Communications Act 36 of 2005;
  11. Films and Publications Act 65 of 1996;
  12. Copyright Act 98 of 1978;
  13. Electoral Act 73 of 1998;
  14. Competition Act 89 of 1998;
  15. Mental Health Act 17 of 2002;
  16. Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998;
  17. South African Police Service Act 68 of 1995.

Consequently, in South Africa it is vital that all aspects of media law should be protected and advanced to the utmost degree in any constitutional democracy while advocating that it is useless to argue taste and even more useless to litigate it. ASHLEY SLAMAT ATTORNEYS – COPYRIGHT