The Press Council, the Ombud, the Public Advocate in the council and a Adjudication Panel are an independent co-regulatory mechanism set up by the print media and online publications affiliated to them to provide impartial, expeditious and cost-effective adjudication to settle disputes over the editorial content of publications.

The mechanism is based on two pillars: a commitment to freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and to excellence in journalistic practice and ethics.

The Council and the press have adopted the South African Press Code, to guide journalists in their daily practice of gathering and distributing news and opinion and to guide the Ombudsman and the Adjudication Panel to reach decisions on complaints from the public.

Almost all South African publications, mainly members of the Print and Digital Media South Africa (PDMSA) subscribe to the Code.

The Council is the custodian of this Code and may amend it from time to time, depending on circumstances.

The industry believes in independent co-regulation involving exclusively representatives of the press and representatives of the public because it is the only way that the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of the press and other media guaranteed in the Constitution of the Republic can be truly exercised. Statutory regulation would threaten the independence of the press and freedom expression.

The Press Council of South Africa comprises the office, members of the council and the members of the adjudication panel.