MPs agree to relax TV rules on broadcasting Parliament

Broadcasting journalists have won a landmark victory in persuading
MPs to ease the tight curbs on televising the reporting of Parliament.

More
reaction shots of MPs in the chamber will be shown and there will be
more "interview points" for journalists to conduct televised interviews
with politicians.

The concessions follow complaints by broadcasters that the present arbitrary restrictions were inhibiting legitimate reporting.

When
purple paint was thrown at Tony Blair during Prime Minister's Questions
in May 2004 the BBC was reprimanded for showing a slow-motion shot of
paint landing on the front bench. It was also rebuked for showing a
wide-angle shot of fox hunting demonstrators invading the chamber in
September 2004.

Frank Doran, chairman of the House of Commons
Administration Committee, said the rules will be relaxed for a trial
period when MPs reassemble after the summer recess in October.

"A
greater variety of shots of proceedings in the chamber will be allowed
than is the case at present, including a greater use of reaction shots
in order to illustrate the mood of the House," Mr Doran said.

Broadcasters
will also be allowed to include "a low-level atmospheric sound-feed
during divisions rather than the current complete silence".

New
interview points will be allowed in Westminster Hall and on the Green
in New Palace Yard, and in the peers' lobby. At present televised
interviews are restricted to a corner of the Central Lobby and an
obscure corridoor.

Broadcasters will also be allowed to show camera shots of a presenter walking across the Central Lobby on non-sitting days.

Broadcasting
journalists are waiting to find out what the concessions will mean in
practice. But Toby Castle, ITV News Westminster editor, said: "As long
as we continue this process of negotiation it could mean freer access."

Calling
for a relaxation last year, a Hansard Society Commission of journalists
and politicians led by Labour peer Lord Putnam said:"Removing
unnecessary restrictions would not only make possible more and higher
quality coverage but would also be a powerful symbol of Parliament's
institutional desire to improve its openness and responsiveness to the
public."

 

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