Parliament is not the Jerry Springer show - lawyer

2015-04-20 16:26
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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

Cape Town - Unparliamentary behaviour and grave disorder in the National Assembly are the antithesis of parliamentary business and should therefore not be broadcast to the public, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

Jeremy Gauntlett said his client, Parliament, was under no obligation to broadcast such incidents involving a member's conduct because it impaired its ability to conduct its business in an orderly and acceptable manner.

"It is not the Jerry Springer show, it is an institution," he argued.

"If what is going on is being graphically seen, down to every offensive swearword, every exposed portion of the human anatomy... it does not follow that it is something which is consistent with the business of parliament."

Media24, Primedia, the SA National Editors' Forum and two other parties were challenging a clause in Parliament's broadcasting policy that dealt with coverage of unparliamentary behaviour and grave disorder.

The applicants 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.

They also wanted the court to find that the use of a signal jamming device during President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address on February 12 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 application followed the eviction of Economic Freedom Fighters MPs from Parliament during the State of the Nation address, which was not broadcast.

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

Some journalists took cellphone footage of the incident, in contravention of Parliament's policy, but could not file stories in the chamber because the signal seemed to be jammed. Gauntlett argued on Monday that Parliament had attempted to strike a balance between maintaining order and allowing freedom of expression in its policy.

"Do we just black out? Unlike Eskom, the answer is no. You will see her [Mbete] controlling the situation as best as she can, you will hear as much as you can through the audio but you will not see through these powerful strong means, what is the abhorrent behaviour."

The media could still observe and write about all activities in the house.

Gauntlett added that Parliament had to have the ability to determine how it ran with the necessary separation of powers.

Read more on:    jacob ­zuma  |  baleka mbete  |  cape town  |  politics  |  state of the nation 2015  |  parliament 2015  |  media

Join the conversation! 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 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 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.