On Monday 20 April 2015, R2K and the Open Democracy Aice Centre will be two of the applicants back in court to continue the challenge to Parliament’s broadcasting policy, which we believe allows for censorship of television coverage of events in Parliament.
This is the latest hearing in a court action that began after the State of the Nation Address in February, when Parliament’s television cameras were misdirected to prevent the public from seeing police coming into the National Assembly, and the State Security Agency deployed technology to “jam the signal”.
The four applicants bringing the matter to the Western Cape High Court are Primedia Broadcasting, Sanef, R2K and ODAC. The respondents are the Speaker of the National Assembly, Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Secretary to Parliament and the Minister of State Security – the last for the controversial use of “signal jamming”.
The manipulation of Parliament’s broadcast feed undermines the right of all South Africans to know what is happening in Parliament – good and bad.
At the heart of this is Parliament’s broadcasting policy, which effectively states that footage of “grave disorder” may not be brocast to the public (see explanatory note below). The policy appears to have been adopted in 2009, with no apparent public consultation, and is not available on Parliament’s website.
R2K believes that the policy allows for censorship of what is happening in Parliament and should be struck down.
With regard to the use of “signal jamming” at the State of the Nation Address, the State Security Agency has now admitted its involvement, and argues that it is allowed to use signal-jamming technology, but says that the jamming of the signal in the National Assembly chambers was an error. We continue to argue that signal jamming in Parliament must be declared unlawful.
Parliament belongs to the public and the public have the right to know!
R2K and ODAC are represented by attorneys from the Legal Resources Centre. Primedia Broadcasting and Sanef are represented by Webber Wentzel.
Download the court papers a href=”http:www.r2k.org.zawp-contentuploadsrimedia__Others_vs_The_Speaker20April2015.zip” target=”_blank”herea.
“Disorder on the floor of the House:
a) Televising may continue during continued incidents of grave disorder or unparliamentary behaviour for as long as the sitting continues, but only subject to the following guidelines:
i. On occasions of grave disorder, the director must focus on the occupant of the Chair for as long as proceedings continue, or until order has been restored and
ii. In cases of unparliamentary behaviour, the director must focus on the occupant of the Chair. Occasional wide- angle shots of the chamber are acceptable.”
Effectively this means that that incidents deemed to be “grave disorder” may not be filmed by Parliament’s sound and visual unit, and will therefore be unavailable to the public. Incidents of “unparliamentary behaviour” would only occasionally be filmed by Parliament’s sound and visual unit, and will not otherwise be available to the public.
Source : Right2Know