Sanef to challenge Parly's media policy

Sanef has slammed the apparent use of a signal jammer during Sona.

FILE: The Houses of Parliament in Cape Town. Picture: Carmel Loggenberg/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) on Monday said it would approach the courts to challenge Parliament's media policy, which allowed its presiding officers to manipulate the audio and video feeds from the National Assembly and council of provinces.

Cellphone reception was cut off ahead of President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (Sona) and journalists turned to Parliamentary officials for an explanation.

Sanef has slammed the apparent use of a signal jammer during Sona that prevented the transmission of information via cellphones and says it wants the courts to declare this illegal.

Journalists in the National Assembly staged a protest against the signal jammer before Zuma's speech.

Sanef chairperson Mpumelelo Mkhabela said they would approach the High Court in Cape Town this week.

"We want the court to declare it unlawful and unconstitutional for Parliament's officials to have the right to manipulate broadcast feed."

Earlier, Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, criticised journalists saying they undermined Parliamentary decorum by chanting 'bring back the signal'.

When the signal was not restored, editors and journalists began chanting.

The minister singled out Primedia's Yusuf Abramjee, saying he was out of line when chanting with other journalists for the signal to be restored.

Meanwhile, government ministers said the jamming of the cellphone signal was simply a technical glitch and said they were just as surprised not to have had signal.

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane said, "I'll call it a technical glitch, until the full investigation by the Presidency and Parliament to say we all need to know what happened."

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom backed her by saying ANC MPs were equally as shocked when they didn't have signal.