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Most recent Media Law Articles posted

Committee condemns attacks on journalists

Parliament’s Communications Committee has condemned the recent intimidation of journalists, and has sent its condolences to the family of Suna Venter, says a News24 report. Committee chairperson Humphrey Maxegwana said the committee was saddened to hear of Venter's death, adding that she had left an indelible legacy of speaking truth to power.


Embracing technology to promote justice

The judgment handed down by the SCA last week regarding the filming of Henri van Breda’s criminal trial is a significant one, writes Willem de Klerk, an experienced litigation attorney and Johannesburg-based media lawyer, in an analysis on the News24 site. He says it adds to a body of law developed in recent years that promotes the principle of open justice and finally closes the door on the blanket exclusion of cameras in court.


Van Breda wins live-streaming battle

Murder-accused Henri van Breda has won his battle in the SCA to prohibit Media24 from live-streaming his trial, notes a News24 report. ‘The matter is remitted to the High Court for reconsideration in accordance with the principles set out in the judgment,’ the SCA ruled yesterday, ordering Media24 to pay Van Breda's costs.


Highway billboard battle in High Court

The eThekwini Municipality says a massive billboard overlooking the N2 highway is a road safety hazard and it has taken its fight to the courts to have it torn down, notes a report in The Mercury. ‘The distracting effects of advertising create a hazard,’ the municipality’s chief legal adviser, Clement Xulu, said in papers filed in the KZN High Court (Durban).


Ads on cars scheme flop costs man his house

Albert Venter, the brains behind the ‘new car for only R699 per month’ scheme, is losing his Pretoria house after Standard Bank obtained judgment of R7.8m against him. According to a report in Rapport the property is up for sale. The scheme left thousands of motorists with problems when advertising revenue for advertisements placed on the cars was not forthcoming.


'Public interest' overrides Lion Man complaints

‘Legitimate public interest’ was the overriding factor in the Broadcasting Complaints Commission Tribunal’s decision to dismiss claims by New Zealand’s Lion Man, Craig Busch – who opened the Jabula Big Cat Sanctuary near Rustenburg when he moved to SA – that his privacy and dignity had been impaired by Carte Blanche, notes Legalbrief.


Court mulls SABC bid to appeal Motsoeneng ruling

The SABC argued yesterday that Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s appointment was an internal arrangement and did not constitute an exercise of public power, and thus a court could not review it. A News24 report notes that the public broadcaster was applying to the Western Cape High Court for leave to appeal its earlier ruling on Motsoeneng’s appointment as group executive of corporate affairs.


ConCourt to hear STB dispute in February

The legal matter over the technical specifications of government-subsidised set-top boxes (STBs) is due to be heard by the Constitutional Court on 21 February, Aslam Moosajee, of Norton Rose Fulbright, confirmed to ITWeb. The matter was brought to the attention of the top court in by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, following the SCA's ruling in favour of encrypted decoders.


Encryption dispute stalls set-top box manufacture

Parliament has heard that the manufacture and procurement of set-top boxes – which will be required when digital migration occurs – has been halted pending the conclusion of the legal battle over the non-encryption of the converters. A Business Day report says the Universal Services and Access Agency of SA (Usaasa) – which is implementing the digital migration process – addressed a joint meeting of Parliament's Communications Committee.


Supreme Court of Appeal asked to rule against Parliament's censors

Media groups and NGOs took the issues of parliamentary signal-jamming and censoring of live broadcasts to the SCA yesterday, notes Legalbrief. Primedia‚ the SA National Editors Forum‚ the Right2Know Campaign and the Open Democracy Advice Centre approached the court to ensure live broadcasts from Parliament were not censored and that signal jamming devices were not used to block journalists using mobile phones, as had been the case during EFF disruptions of President Jacob Zuma’s State of Nation Address in February 2015.


SABC wins copyright battle over documentary

The Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) has issued a final interdict against veteran documentary producer Sylvia Vollenhoven in terms of which she may not distribute or broadcast the documentary Project Spear, commissioned by the public broadcaster, notes a Pretoria News report. The SABC was due to broadcast the documentary in September 2012, but gave various reasons for not doing so, including that it would open the broadcaster to defamation claims as there were allegations that could not be substantiated.


Qwelane freedom of speech battle this week

Journalist and diplomat Jon Qwelane’s controversial freedom of speech battle gets a hearing in the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) this week when he seeks to have sections of the law governing hate speech and harassment declared unconstitutional. A Mail & Guardian report says Qwelane is challenging the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.


Minister chose not to meddle in SABC – department

The Communications Ministry has taken a hands-off approach to the SABC because it has full confidence in the board, it said yesterday. A BDlive report says the department was responding to reports over recent developments at the public broadcaster, saying Communications Minister Faith Muthambi ‘chose not to meddle’ in its internal matters.


Freelancer's lawyers argue judge missed the point

SABC contributing editor Vuyo Mvoko’s constitutional rights to freedom of expression were infringed by the public broadcaster’s decision to ‘punish’ him by taking him off air for an article in which he criticised its management. This, says a Weekend Argus report, is argued in Mvoko’s application for leave to appeal against the dismissal of his application to have his contract enforced.


Connected businessman in R380m SABC licence-fee deal

Politically connected businessman Kuben Moodley stands to rake in R380m from a suspect debt-collection deal with the SABC authorised by the broadcaster’s acting CE, James Aguma, according to a Sunday Times report. It notes Moodley is a former special adviser to Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and golf partner of Salim Essa, a kingpin in the Gupta empire.


R1.3m damages claim for Facebook posts

The danger of defaming someone on Facebook was again highlighted in a damages claim instituted by Paul Hechter, whose name was ‘dragged in the mud’ following a run-in with his neighbour, says a report in The Mercury. Hechter said in papers before the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) that he was accused of being a Peeping Tom, a pervert and a paedophile.


Defamation action against editor next week

The long-delayed racism case brought by reporters against their then boss Ferial Haffajee is due in court next week. A report in The Star says the four former City Press reporters – Mawande Mvumvu, Khanyiso Tshwaku, Muntu Vilakazi and Denvor de Wee – brought the case against then editor Haffajee in January 2014, accusing her of defaming them by calling them racists.





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