The King Commission live : an examination of the legal and ethical considerations involved in broadcasts of judicial proceedings

Brand, Robert Christian (2001-03)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The controversy around the broadcasting of court proceedings has reigned in the United States since the 1950s, reaching a peak with the trial of O.J. Simpson, widely interpreted as an example of the destructive effect of a "media circus" on the administration of justice. In many other U.S. courtrooms, however, television and radio journalists do their work unobtrusively, professionally and to the benefit of their viewers and listeners. The King Commission of Inquiry into allegations of match-fixing in cricket gave South Africa its first experience of television and radio coverage of judicial proceedings, and lay the basis for a more liberal approach to electronic coverage of courts. The Constitution protects freedom of expression, including the freedom to receive and impart information. This has been interpreted by the High Court as conferring on radio journalists the freedom to record and broadcast the King Commission's proceedings. It is argued in this study that the High Court's reasoning could be applied with equal force to television, and to coverage of the courts. It is suggested a trial period of electronic coverage of courts, under clear guidelines for journalists and legal practitioners, may provide greater clarity on the desirability of allowing electronic coverage of courts on a permanent basis.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die netelige vraagstuk rondom die uitsaai van hofverrigtinge het alreeds in the vyftigerjare van die vorige eeu in die Verenigde State ontstaan. Die vervolging van O.J. Simpson was 'n hoogtepunt in die debat. Dié saak word gereeld voorgehou as 'n voorbeeld van die nadelige effek wat 'n "mediasirkus" op die regsproses kan uitoefen. Maar in baie ander Amerikaanse howe doen radio- en televisiejoernaliste hulle werk sonder steurnis, professioneel, en ten voordeel van hul luisteraars and kykers. The Kingkommissie van Ondersoek na beweringe van oneerlikheid in krieket was Suid-Afrika se eerste ervaring van elektroniese dekking van 'n regterlike proses, and kan moontlik die basis vorm vir 'n meer liberale benadering tot elektroniese dekking van howe. Die Grondwet waarborg vryheid van uitdrukking, insluitende die vryheid om inligting uit te stuur en te ontvang. Die Hooggeregshof het onlangs beslis hierdie vryheid beteken radiojoernaliste mag die verrigtinge van die Kingkommissie opneem en uitsaai. In hierdie studie word geargumenteer dat die Hooggeregshof se beslissing ook van toepassing kan wees op televisie, en op hofverrigtinge. Daar word voor die hand gedoen dat Suid- Afrikaanse howe vir 'n proeftydperk elekroniese dekking van hofverrigtinge toelaat, met streng reëls vir joernaliste en regspraktisyns. So 'n proefneming kan dalk groter duidelikheid verskaf oor die voor- en nadele van televisie- en radiodekking van howe op 'n permanente basis.

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