Independent Media notes the statement of the Press Council, dated 21 October, linking our withdrawal from the Press Council to Black Wednesday, which is synonymous with repressive Apartheid state action against the media in 1977.
We reject the comparison out of hand.
For the record, we state the following:The decision, in 2012, by Independent’s CEO, Tony Howard, to remove the waiver clause from the Press Code, was made prior to the acquisition of Independent Media by the Sekunjalo Consortium which was finalised in August 2013.Since then, we have sought opinion and engaged with the Press Council indicating that we were aggrieved by the exclusion of the waiver clause in the Press Code.Since the demise of the PMSA, we have had numerous meetings with Mr Thloloe, including a meeting in March 2016, where we once again registered our concern and that we were considering withdrawing from the Press Council and appointing an internal ombudsman.On 14 October 2016, Independent Media submitted a letter to the Press Council reiterating that the absence of the waiver placed an undue burden on the company, since the Press Ombudsman could be abused as a fishing expedition by prospective litigants. Accordingly, we advised that, subject to the removal of the waiver, “…we can no longer regard ourselves or any of our titles to be bound by the rules of the Press Ombudsman or the constitution of the Press Council.”
We are deeply respectful of Mr Joe Thloloe and have, on numerous communications with him, indicated our willingness to engage with the Press Council. This position still holds.