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Media to be granted court access


26th March 2014

The government is considering new legislation to allow the media to broadcast sentencing proceedings in criminal trials. 

NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC has revealed plans to use broadcast technology to “demystify” the court process, with the aim of making the courts more open and accountable to the community. 

Under the proposal, final court proceedings; such as verdicts and sentences in criminal cases, will be filmed and broadcasted on television – except in specific circumstances.

Exceptions will be clearly defined. For example, broadcasting would be inappropriate when:

  • filming would reveal the identity of jurors, protected witnesses or victims;
  • proceedings contain significant material subject to suppression orders, or material which would prejudice other trials or police investigations, or reveal police methodology;
  • filming would put the safety and security of someone at risk.

Media organisations and other stakeholders will be consulted about the proposed legislation. It is expected the current process of allowing one pool camera to film proceedings will continue.

Mr Smith said the plan would open courts to greater scrutiny, enhance the public understanding of the criminal justice system, and increase the transparency of the decision making.

“Our courts are open to all, and in most cases there is no good reason why cameras should not be allowed to bring the judge’s decision straight into our living rooms and onto our smartphones.”