13. Memorandum submitted by Mr Gareth
My views on the subject of TV coverage of the
Welsh Assembly can be summarised in a few sentences.
1. The coverage should be as comprehensive
as possible. The consortium allocated to cover the Assembly should
be allowed total access to both the plenary sessions and committees,
particularly since there will be far more time devoted to the
committees than plenary sessions. The transparency of the Welsh
Assembly in all its workings will depend on this freedom of access.
The Consortium's coverage should be regarding as a "clean
feed" allowing access to the BBC, S4C, HTV and other media
2. This coverage would be paid for under
the Assembly contract currently under tender to various consortia.
The selected broadcasting consortium would also be expected to
provide edited extracts to various broadcasters for a fee. Such
arrangements can be created for the Welsh Assembly by adapting
the system currently used by the Houses of Parliament.
3. The Assembly itself should regulate but
not control the work of the broadcasters. Editorial control should
be the prerogative of the broadcast organisations based on the
material passed to them by the broadcast consortium. However,
the Assembly needs to regulate with a light touch in order to
ensure that there is no abuse of sensitive situations. Short guidelines
should be established by an Assembly sub-committee and issued
to the selected broadcast consortium. They would address the problems
of how certain situations are covered eg the extreme possibility
of an Assembly speaker collapsing.
4. The sub-committee should be as small
as possible. An avoidance of political party representation would
be preferable. One possible idea would be that it should be the
prerogative of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker who would consider
any possible abuse of coverage with the advice of an independent
media expert. Such problems should be considered retrospectively
given that the sub-committee, following the agreement of guidelines
with the broadcaster, should only be concerned with singular "live"
5. The simpler the system and the more transparent
the system the better.
Finally, I should establish my credentials as
a former Controller of BBC Wales who has no vested interest in
the coverage of the Assembly although I am Project Manager of
the monitoring group of the Compliance committee of S4C. As a
member of that Compliance committee, we monitor S4C broadcasts
regarding matters of political balance, taste, decency and the
use of English and Welsh languages on S4C.
The Thomson Foundation
29 September 1998