There is a ban on free news media photography at the Lady Gaga Concerts in Johannesburg and Cape Town, with the organisers only making available selected publicity photographs. The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) notes its concern at such a decision, which it regards as a form of press censorship, fundamentally in conflict with the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of media in South Africa.
A storm has erupted over a ban on all news photographers from covering Lady Gaga’s concerts at the Cape Town Stadium on Monday night.
In a statement on Thursday, the SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) said it was seeking an urgent meeting with organisers to reconsider the ban and allow news photographers “normal” coverage accreditation. The ban extends to Lady Gaga’s concert in Johannesburg on Friday night.
Sanef said organisers confirmed on Wednesday that no news photography would be allowed.
“It 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 Media Freedom Committee chairman Mpumelelo Mkhabela said.
The publicists for Big Concerts, Pamberi Communications, told the Cape Times on Thursday that they were given a mandate from Live Nations, Gaga’s management team, to not accredit any news photographers for the shows.
“This isn’t just for the Cape Town show,” said Pamberi publicist Gwen Ironsi.
“We were informed that this mandate was for all the shows globally, the company Live Nation will be supplying us with pictures for the shows,” she said.
News reporters have been given access to the concerts. Mkhabela said: “The only way the public can trust media coverage of such events is when journalists and photographers can operate freely. Previous accepted practice at such events has been for accredited news photographers to be allowed to take pictures during the first three songs and then withdraw.”
Sanef said Gaga’s visit had caused a buzz, with a number of religious groups and other organisations protesting against her presence.
“This makes her visit a matter of real public interest,” Mkhabela said.
Tourism, Events and Marketing director Anton Groeneweld was unable to respond by deadline.
Big Concerts’ chief operating officer John Langford declined to comment.
Meanwhile, the FNB Stadium is on lockdown ahead of Friday night’s concert and excitement levels have reached fever pitch among the star’s “Little Monsters”, who are flooding social networks with posts of costumes they’ll be wearing to mark the occasion.
Gaga herself, who arrived in the country on Tuesday night with an entourage of 200, reportedly needed seven vans to carry her costumes from Lanseria Airport to an undisclosed hotel.
After landing and being greeted by more than 300 screaming fans who had been waiting at the airport’s international arrivals terminal, Gaga took to social networking site Twitter.
“I’m so happy that I was able to see my fans at the airport in South Africa. Thank u for all the time you waited, I appreciate and love you. X,” she tweeted.
Roads will be closed around the FNB Stadium when Lady Gaga performs there on Friday night, Johannesburg metro police said.
The Soweto Highway would be closed between the N1 and Mentz Road from 6pm until midnight, spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said on Thursday.
Nasrec Road would be closed between the N17 and Rand Show Road.
Concert-goers were advised to park in Shareworld Road and at Nasrec. About 65 000 people were expected at the concert.