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South African editors have queried a ban on free news media photography at concerts by United States singer Lady Gaga.
This prohibition would raise public suspicions about the integrity of reports at such events, the SA National Editor's Forum (Sanef) said on Thursday.
“Sanef is concerned at what appears to be a growing trend by commercial event organisers to try to impose censorship or restrictions on the media other than the few that the media accepts are necessary for the successful conduct of the proceedings,” it said in a statement.
“The only way in which the public can trust media coverage of such events is when journalists and photographers can operate freely and independently, and the public is aware of this.”
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, who goes by the stage name of Lady Gaga, landed in Johannesburg on Tuesday on a visit to South Africa as part of her “Born This Way” world tour.
Sanef said the decision by the organisers to make available selected publicity photographs was seen as a form of media censorship, and was in conflict with the country's constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press.
Usually, accredited photographers were allowed to take pictures during the first three songs at events like these, it said.
On Wednesday, organisers confirmed to Sanef that no news photography would be allowed at the Johannesburg or Cape Town concerts.
“This appears to be the first time that such a ban has been imposed and Sanef will be seeking an urgent meeting with the organisers to explain the negative implications of their move for media freedom,” Sanef said.
“Sanef will request them to reconsider the matter and to restore normal coverage facilities to news photographers seeking accreditation.”
Gaga's visit to the country has resulted in protests by religious and other organisations. Sanef said this had made her visit of public interest.
The singer is scheduled to perform at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Friday and at the Cape Town Stadium on Monday. - Sapa