Judgment reserved in Parliament feed case

2015-03-06 20:17
(Rodger Bosch, AP)

(Rodger Bosch, AP)

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

Cape Town - Judgment in an urgent interim application to enforce uninterrupted audio and a wide-angle shot of the parliamentary Chamber during disruptions was reserved by the Western Cape High Court on Friday.

Judge Elizabeth Baartman, sitting with Judges Nape Dolamo and Owen Rogers, said arguments by media houses, organisations, and Parliament would be considered.

The application was brought by Media24, Primedia Broadcasting, the SA National Editors' Forum, the Right2Know Campaign, and the Open Democracy Advice Centre.

They were seeking an interim order pending a hearing for final relief.

The respondents are National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise, Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana, and State Security Minister David Mahlobo.

Arguments on Friday centred on the distinction between public education and entertainment, and whether Parliament's broadcasting policy is constitutional and in the public interest.

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

There is no provision for such a shot during a grave disturbance and the policy does not define what such a disturbance entails.

Jeremy Gauntlett, for Parliament, argued that not everything the public found interesting was in the public interest.

He said the policy on the use of wide-angle shots was a form of "anticipatory control".

Parliament had a right and responsibility to control unrestrained situations where hate speech might be broadcast or where there could be violence or demonstrations, he said.

He referred to the fatal stabbing of former prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd in the old National Assembly chamber on 6 September 1966, as an example of a grave disturbance.

The policy on live feed did not restrict media in the Chamber from documenting such events for posterity, he said.

Constitutional right

Steven Budlender, for the applicants, argued that it was the constitutional right of every citizen to have an accurate representation of what occurred on the floor of the Chamber.

"What we say is that this is a case which involves the public's right for them to see for themselves what happens in Parliament, to see the way that their MPs conduct or misconduct themselves and how their Speaker or chair deals with this conduct," he said.

Having access to this information would allow citizens to make informed decisions about for whom they voted.

During President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address in Parliament on 12 February, the eviction of EFF MPs from the House was not broadcast. Instead the camera focused on Mbete and Modise.

Before this happened, journalists and some MPs protested against cellphone signals being blocked in the House.

As a result of undertakings by Parliament, the applicants were no longer asking for interim relief to ensure there was no jamming of signal during sittings or meetings.

Budlender argued that the application was urgent since Zuma would be answering questions on Wednesday, a situation in which the interim relief might already be needed.

In the final relief, the applicants wanted any temporary order on the audio and wide-angle shot to be made final.

The applicants wanted the court to declare that the manner in which audio and visual feeds were produced on 12 February was unconstitutional and unlawful.

They also wanted the court to find invalid the section on grave disturbances and unparliamentary behaviour in Parliament's filming and broadcasting policy.

An order forcing Mbete, Modise, and Mgidlana to investigate who was responsible for the signal jamming is also being sought.

The outcome of the probe should be submitted to the court.

The parties were to request that the hearing for final relief take place on 21 April and 22 April.


Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  cape town  |  media  |  state of the nation 2015  |  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.

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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

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


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.


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.