If you believe a publication – print or online – has not lived up to the Code of Ethics and Conduct for South African Print and Online Media, you may lodge a complaint by letter, fax, sms or email with the Press Council’s Public Advocate within 20 working days of the publication of the relevant story. If necessary, the Public advocate will assist you in formulating your complaint. The Public advocate will also act as your champion throughout the process, arguing your matter before the Ombud and the Appeals Panel, if it reaches that level. In the complaint, state the name and date of the publication and the reasons you believe it has breached the Code. If you send a copy of the article with the complaint, it would speed up the process.
The Public Advocate will negotiate with the publication on your behalf to attempt a speedy settlement.
If no resolution is achieved within 15 working days of the publication receiving notice of the complaint, the Public Advocate will refer the matter to the Ombud for adjudication. The Ombud may hold a hearing and will be assisted by two members of the Panel of Adjudicators – a media representative and a public representative – at the hearing. Decisions will be by majority vote.
If either party is not satisfied with the decision, it may take the matter on appeal to the Chair of Appeals, retired Gauteng Judge President Judge Ngoepe. The judge will also hear the appeal with a media representative and up to three public representatives from the Panel of Adjudicators.
If either party is not satisfied with the decision of the Chair of Appeals, it may ask the courts to review it.