South Carolina's Shield Law

South Carolina’s Code of Laws were amended in 1993 to provide a qualified privilege against disclosure of information in a proceeding if the information was obtained or prepared in the gathering or dissemination of news and to provide the circumstances under which the person may be required to disclose the information.

The preface of the law says, “The General Assembly finds that it is vital in a democratic society that the public have an unrestricted flow of information on matters of concern to the public and that the threat of compelled testimony or production of information, documents, or items obtained or prepared in gathering or disseminating news to the public interferes with the free flow of information to the public.”

SECTION 19-11-100. Qualified privilege against disclosure for news media; waiver.

(A) A person, company, or entity engaged in or that has been engaged in the gathering and dissemination of news for the public through a newspaper, book, magazine, radio, television, news or wire service, or other medium has a qualified privilege against disclosure of any information, document, or item obtained or prepared in the gathering or dissemination of news in any judicial, legislative, or administrative proceeding in which the compelled disclosure is sought and where the one asserting the privilege is not a party in interest to the proceeding.

(B) The person, company, or other entity may not be compelled to disclose any information or document or produce any item obtained or prepared in the gathering or dissemination of news unless the party seeking to compel the production or testimony establishes by clear and convincing evidence that this privilege has been knowingly waived or that the testimony or production sought:

(1) is material and relevant to the controversy for which the testimony or production is sought;

(2) cannot be reasonably obtained by alternative means; and

(3) is necessary to the proper preparation or presentation of the case of a party seeking the information, document, or item.

(C) Publication of any information, document, or item obtained in the gathering and dissemination of news does not constitute a waiver of the qualified privilege against compelled disclosure provided for in this section.