Media challenges Parliament's broadcasting policy

2015-04-20 13:25
Parliament (File, Dan Calderwood, News24)

Parliament (File, Dan Calderwood, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Video

Police, cellphone jamming breach separation of powers - Right2Know

2015-02-18 15:42

Right2Know's Murray Hunter speaks to us about how the cellphone jamming device along with the use of police in the National Assembly breaches the separation of powers.WATCH

Cape Town - Media houses and other parties are asking the Western Cape High Court to find that a clause in Parliament's broadcasting policy is unconstitutional and invalid because it does not allow the public to view all activities on the floor.

Steven Budlender, for the applicants, told a full bench on Monday that they were challenging the clause that dealt with coverage of unparliamentary behaviour and grave disorder.

Media24, Primedia, the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) and two other parties wanted the court to find this clause unconstitutional and invalid, and for Parliament to be instructed to treat incidents of grave disorder in the same way as unparliamentary behaviour.

Signal jamming

They also wanted the court to find that the use of a signal jamming device during the State of the Nation Address in February was unlawful.

Presently, the policy gives a broadcasting director the discretion to use occasional wide-angle shots during cases of unparliamentary behaviour.

No provision is made for shots during a grave disturbance, and the policy does not define what is considered a grave disturbance.

The parties had failed in their application last month for an urgent interim order enforcing uninterrupted audio and a wide angle shot of the chamber during disruptions, pending final relief.

The application followed the eviction of Economic Freedom Fighters' MPs from the House during President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address in Parliament on February 12, which was not broadcast.

The parliamentary feed that day instead focused on Speaker Baleka Mbete and National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise.

Unparliamentary behaviour

Some journalists took cellphone footage of the incident, in contravention of the broadcasting policy, but could not file stories in the chamber because the signal seemed to be jammed.

"What this court is asked to make a finding on is that it is inconsistent with our constitutional scheme for an incident with this importance to rely on a second-hand version of what happened," Budlender said.

"We didn't get to see what happened on the floor of our Parliament and we are therefore not able to make a proper judgement."

Budlender added that unparliamentary behaviour was often a contested question and involved people raising what they considered to be legitimate issues.

The applicants were relying on the constitutional provisions of the right to freedom of expression and the openness of Parliament.

The court heard that there were already sufficient safeguards in place to ensure broadcasters properly handled the feed that Parliament provided.

Parliament's dignity

Budlender argued that it was incorrect for the respondents to say that broadcasting an uninterrupted feed would compromise Parliament's dignity.

"It doesn't undermine the dignity of Parliament for people to see. The public is entitled to, and needs to see, in order to assess it and make their own judgement calls.

"We are unaware of any authority that says freedom of expression can be restricted because it makes such an institution looks bad."

Budlender said such a principle would be extraordinary in a constitutional scheme such as South Africa's.

Read more on:    primedia  |  sanef  |  media24  |  cape town  |  media  |  parliament 2015

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
9 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.