Court bid to ensure full access to State of the Nation debate

2015-02-17 08:46
Parliament (Dan Calderwood, News24)

Parliament (Dan Calderwood, News24)

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Cape Town - Media houses and other organisations are launching an urgent application in the Western Cape High Court to ensure that there is full media access to the debate on the president's State of the Nation address at 14:00 on Tuesday.

The application seeks to ensure that the live audio and video feed capture the totality of events and are made available to the media, and that there will be no scrambling of telecommunications signals in the National Assembly.

This comes after cellphone signals were temporarily blocked ahead of last Thursday's State of the Nation address, and the eviction of EFF MPs was not broadcast on the parliamentary channel, with the cameras instead focusing on Speaker Baleka Mbete and National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise.

Full access

In terms of the application, full access would mean there is no interference with any reporting and that no jamming devices are used; that the live video and audio feed of parliamentary proceedings is uninterrupted; and all material events within the Parliamentary chamber are depicted in the broadcast feed of Parliament.

Media organisations Media 24 and Primedia Broadcasting are being joined by the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef), Right to Know, and the Open Democracy Advice Centre in the application.

Over the weekend, Sanef expressed its "outrage" at what it termed the illegal clampdown on freedom of expression during the State of the Nation address.

Sanef chairperson Mpumelelo Mkhabela said the organisation believed it had a strong case as the constitutional principles are clear in this matter.

News24 editor-in-chief Andrew Trench said: "The South African public is constitutionally entitled to fully access the business of our most important democratic institution. That can only realised if we in the media can report on Parliament's activities without hindrance or interference. We hope today's court application will affirm this principle."

Read more on:    primedia  |  media24  |  cape town  |  politics  |  media  |  state of the nation 2015  |  parliament 2015

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