The vocal Right2Know (R2K) Campaign, who has on many occasions taken to the street of South Africa to demonstrate various issues, will once again be putting boots on the group – but this time it is to protest what it calls the lack of media freedom in South Africa.
The group is organising several marches for its National Day of Action for the Right to Communicate on 18 October, and will march with the SOS Coalition from Naspers and Media24 to the head office of the SABC offices in Auckland Park.
The campaign will aim to highlight “challenges facing public broadcasting, media ownership, and digital television”, while in Cape Town it will march to Vodacom and Independent Newspapers, “highlighting issues of press freedom and access to telecommunications.” Durban will play host to a mass meeting on media freedom and diversity.
“The Day of Action commemorates Black Wednesday – the day on 19 October 1977 when the Apartheid state banned a number of black consciousness aligned newspapers and arrested prominent journalists – it seems appropriate to reflect on media freedom in South Africa today. The government at the time declared that these publications were ‘publishing inflammatory material that threatened the nation’s security’,” it said in a press statement.
“Today South Africa is a democracy with freedom of expression entrenched at the foundation of our constitution. However growing unemployment and inequality are pushing social cohesion to its limits and again we see government acting to suppress the free flow of information in the name of national security.”
R2K also argues that there needs to be transformation in the media if it wants to present a diversity of voice that are not the mouthpiece of the government.
“Right2Know has consistently argued that media freedom and diversity are two sides of the same coin. Without media freedom the media would become the voice of the government, without a diversity of ownership and economic models (non-commercial and commercial) the media would be the voice of an economic elite.”[Source – Right2Know]