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Court to decide on Parliament’s broadcast rules

Primedia Broadcasting and several organisations want the "disorder clause" declared unconstitutional.

FILE: Members of the press attend a briefing by Parliament's presiding officers on 17 February 2015. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape High Court will have to decide whether or not Parliament was reasonable to impose broadcasting restrictions on incidents of grave disorder in the National Assembly.

Primedia Broadcasting and several organisations want the so-called "disorder clause" declared unconstitutional.

They launched a legal challenge after cameras in the house did not broadcast Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs) being forcibly removed from the National Assembly during the chaotic State of the Nation Address (Sona) in February.

Parliament has the right to take reasonable measures to regulate public access.

The issue here is, have the presiding officers gone too far?

The applicants' attorney Dario Milo said, "One would have to be very careful if you are regulating on the basis of reason as to not shut out publicity, transparency, openness and accountability in the way that you frame your rules."

But Parliament's lawyer Jeremy Gauntlett yesterday told the court the broadcasting policy is in place to protect the dignity of the house.

He argued the National Legislature is not the "Jerry Springer Show", and questioned what he called the applicants' "insatiable appetite for reality TV."

Judgment in the matter has been reserved.