PEN SA Concerned at WC Govt’s Call for Departments to Cancel Cape Times Subscriptions

18 Mar 2015

PEN South Africa is deeply concerned at the Western Cape government’s decision to instruct provincial departments to not renew their subscriptions to the Cape Times newspaper.

Following Western Cape Premier and DA leader Helen Zille’s defense of the decision, PEN SA member, journalism professor and Chair of the Freedom of Expression Institute Professor Anton Harber had the following to say:

“This is a small-minded and petty decision. Helen Zille should be encouraging public servants to be reading as wide a range of newspapers as possible, more especially those she finds disagreeable. I am sorry to see an ex-journalist like Zille falling into the trap of making media decisions which appear to be based on political preferences, just as some departments and parastatals are making decisions on media subscriptions and advertising based on ANC political affiliations.

There is a real, growing danger of people living in information silos – consuming only the media and hearing only the voices they like to hear – and we should be resisting this strongly by encouraging everyone to consume a diversity and range of media.”

PEN South Africa is part of an international organisation which represents writers, editors and translators, and whose members have pledged themselves to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression or censorship and to uphold freedom of the press. With this in mind, it urges the Western Cape government to support media diversity and rethink its decision.

Margie Orford
President, PEN South Africa