The much debated Draft Film and Publications Amendment Regulations are still available for comment, according to Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Phumzile Van Damme.

The deadline for submissions on these regulations has already shifted once and now you have until 17th September 2020 to make a submission to the Film and Publications Board (FPB).

The DA’s Shadow Minister reported this in a press release issued on Tuesday morning.

While the extension is big news, that press release also notes that during a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Communications and Digital Technologies, Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has said that the regulations will not infringe on the constitutional right to freedom of expression.

As much as we’d like to believe that, the language used in the draft regulations is incredibly concerning.

For instance, throwing a dart at the regulations (which can be read here) we find Section 6.1 which reads:

“1. Any person, other than the publisher who is a member of the Press Council of South Africa or an advertiser who is a member of the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa, who intends to publish for distribution or exhibition, or to distribute or exhibit, a publication contemplated in section 16 (2) of the Act, shall submit the publication to the FPB together with the relevant Form provided by the FPB, and the prescribed fee, for examination and classification, before it may be distributed or exhibited within the Republic.”

That section deals specifically with publications with exceptions for those who are a published member of the Press Council of South Africa and adverts.

This section would mean that Hypertext would have to submit every single news story to the FPB for approval before publishing, which is just an impossible ask for both us and the FPB.

As always, the language being used is rather vague and despite assurances from the FPB that it wasn’t concerned with going after private citizens, the line between being a private citizen and streaming in Twitch for reward becomes very blurred.

As such it’s important that you comment on these draft regulations so that changes can be made where necessary.

Comments can be submitted in a variety of ways but must all be addressed to Pandelis Gregoriou.

They can be hand delivered to:

The Film and Publication Board

Eco Glade 2

420 Witch Hazel Avenue

Centurion, 1609

Alternatively you can mail in your comments to:

The Film and Publication Board

Private Bag X31

Highveld Park

0169

Comments can also be submitted via email to clientsupport[at]fpb[dot]org[dot]za.

Local website Dear South Africa is also compiling comments, though we recommend reading the terms and conditions of that website before submitting your comments.

On a final note, while researching this story we found a question Van Damme put to the Minister of Communications back in June.

The question was, “What number of films and/or publications were classified XX by the Film and Publications Board in the past three years, is the title of each specified film and/or publication and was the reason for the XX classification in each case?”

The answer?

None.

With that in mind one has to wonder how the FPB is going to police every piece of content uploaded to the internet if it isn’t even classifying adult content.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]