The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) and the Press Gallery Association (PGA) have expressed serious concern about Parliament’s silence regarding requests for guarantees that the broadcasting of events in the National Assembly would not be stopped even if there was commotion in the House.
Two weeks ago the two organisations submitted proposals to Parliament seeking guarantees about their concerns of a possible repeat of incidents in the recent past when Parliament sometimes interrupted its video broadcast of the proceedings, or did not capture so-called unparliamentary behaviour on the floor during National Assembly sittings.
Despite repeated calls this week, Parliament has remained silent on whether the video and audio feeds will remain on even during the so-called un-parliamentary behaviour.
In a meeting between Sanef, the PGA, the major broadcasters and parliamentary officials two weeks ago, Parliament presented its Policy on Filming and Broadcasting which states that the parliamentary broadcast feed should focus on the Speaker during incidents of disorder or unparliamentary behaviour instead of showing the activity on the floor and public galleries of the house.
The media organisations expressed their concerns that the policy was in conflict with the constitutional values of transparency, accountability and openness that should underpin the activities of the legislature; and that Parliament should supply a fair and balanced record of what happens in Parliament to the South African public.
The media organisations requested an urgent review of the policy to bring it in line with the Constitution and Broadcast legislation, and Parliament invited the media to submit a written submission.
The media submission to Parliament, sent on Friday January 30, stated that by omitting and/or restricting public viewing of some activities of a public institution, Parliament acts in conflict with stipulations in the Constitution, Broadcast Act and Broadcast Code. The submission also included a request for the media to be allowed to provide their own video feeds, should the Parliamentary feed not cover the activities in the house adequately.
Sanef and the PGA requested Parliament to implement these requests in time for the State of the Nation address later today, to ensure full coverage of the events – however, Parliament has not responded to these requests. Sanef and the PGA call on Parliament to ensure that the public of South Africa and other interested people should be guaranteed uninterrupted coverage of sessions of Parliament and its committees today and in the days to come.
For further comment please contact:
Mpumelelo Mkhabela 082 296 2541 Sanef Chairperson
Thabo Mokone 0824909284 PGA Chairperson