CAPE TOWN: A collective sigh of relief was evident across South Africa following last week's statement by the nation's Cabinet that it has no intention to "muzzle the media in any way and that this position will not change".

Media and libertarian organisations have been fearful of the implications of a recent government move to repeal the exemption of print and broadcast media from the provisions of the Films and Publications Act [WAMN: 14-Aug-06].

Such a move would have laid the media open to pre-publication censorship and other restrictions. But those who measure the sometimes yawning gulf between words and actions are still not entirely at ease.

Although the Cabinet approved the submission to parliament of its Films and Publications Amendment Bill 2006 - including the controversial clause that repeals the exemption of the media from the Act - it directed that relevant government departments engage with concerned parties to discuss their worries about the Bill.

"We would like to give the assurance that all views will be considered before the Bill is passed," soothed the Cabinet.

But wary cynics note that "considered" doesn't have quite the same meaning as "implemented".

Data sourced from (South Africa); additional content by WARC staff