Parliament Broadcasting Policy; Moving of Press Gallery Association

Joint Rules

18 March 2003
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


18 March 2002

Co-Chairpersons: Ms G Pandor (Chair of the NCOP) and Ms F Ginwala (Speaker of the NA)

Documents handed out:
Minutes of the 4 February 2003 Meeting
Draft Parliament Broadcasting Policy (see Appendix 1)
Parliament Language Policy (Appendix 2)

The Joint Rules Committee heard reports from its subcommittees. Official minutes of the meeting will be available at a later date. Minutes are provided below for the agenda items: Parliament Broadcasting Policy and Parliamentary Press Gallery Association

Parliament Broadcasting Policy
Mr M Mahlangu (ANC) noted that that the object of the policy is to preserve the dignity of Parliament, while ensuring that viewers are informed about parliamentary work. He noted that there are certain guidelines that broadcasters should adhere to when broadcasting events inside Parliament. Therefore there would be restrictions to film certain parts of the chambers and a certain style of broadcasting should be adopted during presentation. (for a full report see the document attached)

Mr A Nel (ANC Deputy Chief Whip) welcomed the report and noted that is important that certain restrictions be formulated with regard to broadcasting so that the dignity of Parliament can be preserved.

Mr P Nefolovhodwe (AZAPO) expressed his disapproval of the policy. If the Committee does not want the public to see members when they are asleep during parliamentary sessions then it should tell the members not to fall asleep, because to restrict broadcasting is tantamount to preventing public from having access to parliamentary debates.

The Speaker concurred with the latter speaker noting that to evade broadcasting would be immoral and might lead to constitutional challenges. Therefore it would be appropriate for the Committee to find a suitable approach in this regard, which would not be interpreted as preventing public access to parliamentary debates.

Dr J Benjamin (ANC) said that it is important that what the camera focuses on should be informed by parliamentary policy based on what is intended to be achieved. Therefore it would not be appropriate for the broadcaster to focus on sleeping members while there are important issues under discussion since that would be irrelevant to the purpose of the policy. It is important for members to bear in mind that what the broadcasters focus on is backed by a particular ideology, which he or she wants to achieve. She then proposed that this policy should be referred to the political parties represented in Parliament so that they could be able to make their contribution on what a final product should look like.

The Chair, Ms Pandor, noted that indeed it would be impossible for the Parliament to direct the broadcasters on what to broadcast.

Ms P De Lille (PAC) said that a policy should be there to guide and not to impose or direct people on what to say or broadcast. She therefore agreed with the view that this policy should be referred to political parties for further deliberations.

The Chair, Ms Pandor, noted that the members agreed that this policy should be referred to the respective political parties for their input and thereafter a final decision would be taken on the matter.

Parliamentary Press Gallery Association
The Chair, Ms Pandor, noted that even though the members of the Press Gallery Association are to be moved to Parliament Towers, a building outside the Parliament complex, the press would still be accommodated since facilities to that effect has been installed in the National Assembly.

The Speaker said that the move to locate the PGA in Parliament Towers was prompted by the need to create office space near the National Assembly for various new party members after the floor crossing process. She therefore requested members not to interpret the move as being sinister since there would always be ancillary media facilities in the National Assembly that would assist the media staff in its broadcasting.

Dr A Van Niekerk (FA) said that there is a public perception that Parliament wants to sideline the media by prejudicing their rights inside Parliament.

The Speaker said that those perceptions are strange taking into account the fact that Parliament had just passed a law on media diversity. The restructuring should be seen as a way of bringing members near to the National Assembly and as nothing else.

The Chair, Ms Pandor, noted that the view that media would not be able to enjoy freedom when relocated to Parliament Towers should be rejected since the intention, as stated by the Speaker, is to create office space for the members and media facilities have been improved in the National Assembly which will thus enhance the media involvement.

The Speaker noted that the Presiding Officers would arrange a meeting with the Secretary of Parliament, Mr S Fenyane, to ensure that a principle regarding the media is formulated that would be followed by this Parliament and carried over to the new term of the incoming Parliament.

The Chair thanked everyone in attendance and the meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1:

Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

Television Broadcasting


The following are rules for the televising of proceedings of Parliament:


The camera director should seek, in close collaboration with the Manager of Sound and Vision, to give a full, balanced, fair and accurate account of proceedings, with the aim of informing viewers about the work of the Houses.

[Note: In carrying out this task, the director should have regard to the dignity of the Houses and to their functions as working bodies rather than places of entertainment.]


  1. Restriction on Filming Certain Parts of Chambers, etc:
  1. The press and public galleries, the officials' and visitors' boxes, and the area behind the Chair, not being directly related to proceedings, should not be shown, other than unavoidable shots as part of wide-angle or other shots authorised by the Chair (i.e. when the presiding officer recognises a person or group in one of those areas).
  2. Great care should be exercised in showing the occupant of the Chair. Shots showing the Presiding Officers receiving advice from the Table, should be avoided. Officials of the House attending in the Chamber should not normally be shown, unless they are taking an active part in the proceedings.
  3. During divisions, a wide-angle shot of the Chamber may be used. In addition, the following events relating to divisions may be shown using the standard format in sub-paragraph 2 (a): Putting the Question, both initially and after the bells have rung; any points of order which may arise, together with any response by the Chair; and announcement by the Chair of the voting result.
  4. In no circumstances should close-up shots of Members' or Officers' papers be taken.
  1. Style and Presentation:
  1. The standard format for depicting the Member who has the floor should be a head-and-shoulders shot, not a close-up.
  2. Subject to sub-paragraphs (c) to (g) below, the camera should normally remain on the Member speaking until she or he has finished.
  3. Wide-angle shots of the Chamber may be used from time to time. For example, while the director is seeking a closer shot of a Member who has just been called, at times when no single Member has the floor, and to establish the geography of the House for the benefit of viewers.
  4. As a matter of general practice, the director should switch to a picture of the occupant of the Chair whenever she or he addresses the House; this principle should be applied all the more strictly during any incidence of disorder or altercations between the Chair and other Members. So long as it is clear to the director to which Member is being referred, a reaction shot is permitted.
  5. Occasional cut-away shots to illustrate individual reactions are allowed, but only to show a Member who has been referred to by the Member speaking.
  6. Medium-angle shots, including over-the-shoulder shots, are permissible where the director wishes to show both the Member who has the floor and another Member intervening or seeking to do so.
  7. Occasional group shots - mid-way between the standard head and shoulders shot and the wide-angle shot - are permitted; such shots may be used either for the purposes of showing the reaction of a group of Members, or in order to establish the geography of a particular part of the Chamber.
  8. Under no circumstances are "dead" shots to be shown, i.e. shots such as empty benches or any others which are not relevant to the proceedings of the House.
  9. The main objective of the director is to provide a means, in conformity with acceptable standards of dignity, propriety and decorum, by which the proceedings of Parliament should be made available through accurate and impartial coverage of the debates of Parliament and the public meetings of its committees.
  1. Special Camera Techniques:
  1. Occasional panning along the benches is permitted but only as a wide-angle shot.
  2. Zoom shots should only be used at the adjournment of the House from the Chair to a concluding wide shot.


  1. Disorder in the Galleries:
  1. Neither interruptions from, nor demonstrations in, the galleries are "proceedings", and as such they should in no circumstances be televised.
  2. If an incident of the sort described in sub-paragraph (a) above occurs in such a way as to interfere with an otherwise permissible shot, the director should cut either to a wide-angle shot of the Chamber which does not show the offending incident, or to the occupant of the Chair.
  1. Disorder on the Floor of the House:

Televising may continue during incidents of grave disorder or unparliamentary behaviour for as long as the sitting continues, but only subject to the following guidelines:

  1. On occasions of grave disorder, the director should normally focus on the occupant of the Chair for as long as proceedings continue, or until order has been restored. (By "grave disorder" is meant incidents of individual, but more likely collective, misconduct of such a seriously disruptive nature as to place in jeopardy the continuation of the sitting.)
  2. In cases of unparliamentary behaviour, the director should normally focus on the occupant of the Chair. Occasional wide-angle shots of the Chamber are acceptable. (The phrase "unparliamentary behaviour" is intended to signify any conduct which amounts to defiance of the Chair but which falls short of grave disorder.)


  1. Live broadcast and rebroadcast on television of the proceedings and excerpts of proceedings of Parliament, is authorised on the following conditions:
  1. Broadcast and rebroadcast may occur, and recordings may be made, only from the official composite vision and sound feed provided by the Sound and Vision Unit of Parliament.
  2. Televising shall respect the dignity and decorum of Parliament, shall only be used for purposes of fair and accurate reports of proceedings, and shall not be used for:
  3. (i) Party-political propaganda of any kind;

    (ii) Satire, ridicule or light entertainment;

    (iii) Commercial sponsorship or advertising.

  4. Fairness and accuracy must be observed, and reports of proceedings shall provide a balanced presentation of different views.
  5. Excerpts of proceedings are to be placed in context.
  6. Where excerpts are used on commercial television, any advertising that occurs immediately before or after the excerpts are shown, should not in any way reflect on or detract from those proceedings.
  1. Guidelines with specific reference to televising of committee proceedings:
  2. Broadcasting of proceedings is at all times at the discretion of the committee, which may at any time withdraw approval for broadcasting. It is also subject to availability of this facility.

    (Where a committee intends to broadcast its proceedings, a witness to appear before the committee shall be given reasonable opportunity before appearing to object and state grounds for her/his objection. The committee shall consider any such objection, having regard to the proper protection of the witness and the public interest in the proceedings, and if the committee decides to proceed notwithstanding the witness' objection, the witness shall be so informed before appearing in the proceedings.

  3. Editing and Broadcasting Decisions:
  1. Parliament's responsibility is confined to provide a feed of the proceedings of whatever House is sitting, and of any committee which has been decided to televise. Any process of editing or selection of feeds is the responsibility of the broadcaster.
  2. Control of broadcasting falls under the Presiding Officers and chairpersons, with the Manager of Sound and Vision Unit as the hands-on manager.
  3. Instructions of the Presiding Officers and Chairpersons of Committees, in relation to the operation of the sound and vision equipment in the Chambers, shall be observed.
  4. The instructions of the Speaker in respect of broadcasting shall be observed.
  1. Monitoring and Archiving:
  1. Coverage should be monitored for compliance with the above conditions.
  2. A complete archive of the clean feed of the proceedings of the two Houses should be maintained.
  3. Members of Parliament should pay a nominal charge for archive material.
  4. Authority of the Presiding Officers must be obtained for the providing of copies of proceedings to any other person or organisation. The cost thereof to be determined by the Secretary to Parliament.

3 September 2001

Appendix 2:

The introduction of extra languages beyond the present arrangement would require:

A) RECURRENT EXPENDITURE per annum (Costs of permanent and/or freelancing staff, printing and equipment maintenance). The implementation of the usage of additional languages during plenary and Committees proceedings would require the following:

- 4 sets of 24 Interpreters (2 per language per session) costing about R18m for 12 languages (including Sign language);
- 60 Translators for 10 languages (6 per language) costing about R7, 2m or 36 Translators for 6 languages costing R4, 3m;
- Printing costs of about R44m for 11 languages or R24m for 6 languages;
- Maintenance of equipment in Chambers and all Committee Rooms, nominal estimate of Rim.

(a) R70m for 11 languages plus Sign language or

(b) R47, 3m for 6 languages

This would depend on the specifications necessary to accommodate the extra interpretation booths estimated at 8 extra booths per Chamber and 11 per Committee Room and the budget provisions by the Department of Public Works;

* EQUIPMENT for interpreting. This involves additional equipment in the Chambers and in all the Committee Rooms. The equipment can either be leased at a cost of about R15, 000 per day per sitting in one venue or purchased outright.

Given the structural changes that will be needed to be effected to most venues/buildings and the present budget allocation of R8m, the date of implementation of whatever policy changes would require an additional budgetary allocation from the National Treasury within the MTEF.


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