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Bill to tighten media law
October 07, 2004

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) Amendment Bill which will tighten the controversial media law was tabled in Parliament on 6 October 2004.

The Bill seeks among other provisions, to amend certain sections of AIPPA for purposes of providing a penalty for those journalists caught practicing without a licence.

Clause 3 seeks to amend Section 83 prohibiting unaccredited or suspended journalists from practicing journalism. The provision will introduce a penalty which was not previously provided for in the form of a fine not exceeding $600 000 or two years imprisonment or to both such fine and imprisonment.

The Bill was read for the first time and then referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) for consideration.

The PLC is entitled to 26 days within which it should determine the constitutionality or otherwise of the Bill and present a report on its findings to Parliament.

Clause 2 of the Bill seeks to amend section 40 (2) of the principal Act, which provides that some members of the Media and Information Commission [MIC] be appointed from nominees of an association of media houses and an association of journalists.

The clause seeks to amend this requirement by providing that nominees be received from either of the two or both associations, as there is currently no association of media houses.

Clause 4 of the amendment seeks to introduce a provision for the appointment of a three- member Independent Disciplinary Committee to determine whether any member of the MIC suspended by the Minister for misconduct should be dismissed.

The IDC shall be chaired by a person appointed by the Minister from a list of three registered legal practitioners recommended by the Attorney General.

It will also consist of a member of the MIC appointed by the Minister from a list of three members of the MIC recommended by the MIC and the third person shall be chosen from a list of three names submitted by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communications.

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