Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Second Report


Annex 2b

Broadcasting Task Group

RULES OF COVERAGE BY BROADCASTERS

General Principles

  1.  A desire for openness and transparency has underpinned the recorded remarks of Ministers at the Welsh Office and the National Assembly Advisory Group. The Consultation Paper issued by NAAG says that it is crucial that the broadcasting arrangements contribute to the openness and accessibility they want the Assembly to provide.

  2.  The basis for broadcasting the Assembly should therefore rest in a right of access for all bona fide broadcasters to all proceedings of the Assembly and its committees. The proceedings should be defined as any formally constituted session of the Assembly, whether a plenary session of the full Assembly or any meeting of its Committees. The only exceptions should be proceedings from which the public are excluded on grounds of, for example, commercial confidentiality.

Broadcasting the Proceedings

  3.  Permanent sound and picture feeds from the Assembly chamber and from the committee rooms should be available for broadcast, whether for live transmissions or for recordings. Any sessions of the Assembly or its Committees, including regional committees, meeting outside Cardiff should also be available for broadcast.

  4.  It may be unrealistic to expect all sessions of the Assembly Committees to be broadcast, and some flexibility may be needed in the arrangements. It would be desirable to ensure that all committee rooms are cabled for radio and television, but not all Committees would necessarily be broadcast.

  5.  In drawing up any rules governing the presence of cameras, there should be flexibility regarding coverage of meetings outside Cardiff (for instances, the regional committees) to enable broadcasting to take place cost effectively.

  6.  The sound from the simultaneous translation facilities in the Chamber and the Committees should at all times be made available to the broadcasters in broadcast quality.

  7.  The operation of the television and radio feeds from the Assembly should be put out to competitive tender to ensure best value. No broadcaster (ie, a recipient of the feed) should be allowed to compete for the contract.

  8.  The requirements for broadcasting should be worked into the design of the new Assembly building and the temporary accommodation.

Technical Facilities for Broadcasters

  9.  There is a distinction between the provision of the sound and picture signal of the Assembly proceedings and the use of that signal in broadcast programmes.

  10.  Each broadcaster will submit their requirements for physical facilities, but there should be provision of television and sound studios, office space for political journalists, and technical areas for editing etc.

  11.  There should be designated rooms for holding Press Conferences, which should be open to cameras as well as the writing press. Such conference rooms should be cabled to enable live transmission if necessary.

  12.  Due recognition must be given to the dignity of the Assembly. It would not therefore be appropriate for television camera crews to roam around the Assembly building. However, consideration should be given to innovatory ideas designed to engage the viewers and to make them feel part of their Assembly. Close to the Chamber, there should be fixed camera positions adjacent to the broadcasting connections. Broadcasters express a wish to in-vision commentary positions to be provided with a view of the whole Chamber as a backdrop.

Relations between Assembly Members and Journalists

  13.  It is recommended there should be no institutionalised, of-the-record briefings as at Westminster. Instead, there should be a system of open Press Conferences for which facilities should be provided.

  14.  Based on the principle of open access, there should be as much opportunity as possible for journalists to talk to Assembly Members. It would therefore be appropriate for accredited journalists to have access to the equivalent of the Members' Lobby, or whatever is the relevant space just outside the Chamber and Committee Rooms. Equally, there should be areas in the Assembly building where politicians cannot be disturbed by journalists and areas where journalists cannot be disturbed by politicians.

Conclusion

  15.  All decisions on the broadcasting of the Assembly should be based on the principle of openness and accessibility, subject to day-to-day practical requirements. Resources will be tight, both for the Assembly and the broadcasters, so it is therefore a mutual interest to ensure that an efficient and cost-effective system is achieved.


 
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Prepared 11 May 1999