Victory as MPs relax rules on televising 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 follows 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.

The chairman of the House of Commons Administration Committee, Frank Doran, said 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," he added.

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, 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 nonsitting 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 Puttnam, 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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