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Friday, May 04, 2007

IOL: Media hampering effort to fight porn - MP

IOL: Media hampering effort to fight porn - MP

The next episode in this saga has scared the Jeepers outta me.

Pay special attention to this:

The amendments could also rule out live broadcasts as all material would need to
be submitted to the board.

WTF? Does this sound to you like it does to me? That the Film and Publications Board wants to install itself as a permanent censorship board whose function it is to review any and all broadcasts before they go out.

The government deciding what we get to watch. Hmm. Does that sound right? Doesn't that have a distrubingly familiar ring to it? *cough**apartheid**cough*

So, just to be certain, I downloaded myself a copy of the bill from www.polity.org.za.

There are some pretty ridiculous statements in the bill implying an intent by the board to prevent minors from accessing porn via the Internet or cellphones. Um... right. Legislated Internet restrictions are "about as useful as a cock-flavoured lollypop".

But on to the larger issue.

It does indeed seem to imply that any and all films, interactive video games and publications would have to be submitted to the FPB for approval before they could be distributed "regardless of the means of that distribution".

Now I can see how it could be argued that this is a reasonable step when it comes to the sale of such materials so as to ensure that the proper consumer awareness regarding potentially "harmful" contents is created. Sure thing. But if you consider any filmed material as being subject to that, it does indeed imply that all such material is subject to it... including the news.

Now, while the objectives of this amendment seem to be genuinely benevolent, if misguided, the precedent that it would set is a dangerous one. As soon as it's okay for all material to be screened before being exposed to the public, it's possible for a person or group with a particular agenda to use that screening process to force their own views down the throats of the general public.

As if it's not bad enough that our principle multi-lingual TV news source is partially owned and operated by the government, this amendment would provide the ruling regime with the opportunity to impose their censorship on the "indepentant" news sources as well.

A frightening, and surely illegal, prospect if I ever heard one.