Step towards cameras in courts as Sky transmits live feed

By Caitlin Pike

Sky News achieved a UK journalism first on Monday when it made use
of a live feed providing the judges’ comments after the murder retrial
of Sion Jenkins.

From now on, opening and closing speeches, verdicts and sentencing
at civil and criminal trials where stenographers are used will be
allowed to be broadcast live at the discretion of individual judges.

Simon
Bucks, associate editor of Sky News, has been negotiating with the
judiciary and the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) for three
years to set up a protocol for broadcasters.

He said: “I realised
the potential of live stenography for the electronic media when I found
that the system was being used by lawyers – allowing them to have an
immediate transcript in courtrooms as well as for theircolleagues back
at the office.

“I believe this marks a real advance in court
reporting in the electronic media – having a live broadcast of what is
being said inside the courtroom. This is all linked to what we are
trying to do – to get more open courts. Having cameras in courts is our
ultimate goal.”

There are restrictions on what can be broadcast
live from the court, such as evidence from witnesses, which will have
to be delivered with a delay. The editorial responsibility of what will
be transmitted rests with broadcasters, as it does if they report
conventionally from the court.

This latest development follows an
experiment in November last year when limited filming was allowed in
the Appeal Court (not for broadcast).

Last week, the results of a
public consultation were published by the DCA, which came down against
the filming of victims, witnesses or jurors.

But the report did
indicate that the department may allow some civil proceedings and
appeal hearings to be broadcast. A decision is expected later this year.

Earlier
this year, Sky broadcast a live transcript of the Iraq abuse courts
martial in Osnabruck – the world’s first live, instantaneous transcript
of judicial proceedings.

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