Select Committee on Broadcasting First Report


42. Differing arrangements have been made to facilitate broadcasting from the new devolved legislatures,[17] but all have assumed televising to be an integral part of their activities.

43. Their Rules of Coverage tend to be less formal and the financial arrangements more advantageous to the broadcasters than Westminster's, leading to pressure for a revision of arrangements at Westminster. In evidence to the Committee, Anne Sloman, the BBC's Chief Political Adviser, said:

  "It is interesting that in Scotland and Wales a much more open regime has been established and one that from the broadcasters' point of view, and I think from the politicians' as well, has been a great deal more satisfactory.... In terms of the coverage rules, there really are not any and in Scotland they very much took the view that the cameras were there as a surrogate for being in the public gallery, so anything you can see in the public gallery should be available on the electorate's television screens at home; the same has happened in Wales".[18]

(a) The Scottish Parliament

44. The proceedings of the Scottish Parliament are televised by the Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit—which is operated and staffed by BBC Resources Limited ,who won the two-year contract by competitive tender. The service provided is available to all the main broadcasters and is overseen by Parliament's own Broadcasting and Sound Recording Office.

45. The Parliament operates from a temporary building. Capital costs were met by Parliament. Running costs are split 60/40 percent between Parliament and 'core broadcasters'.

46. On average broadcasters receive 'clean feed' coverage of one and a half days' proceedings in the main Chamber each week plus Committee coverage on two mornings. Decisions on which meetings should be covered are made through informal contacts with the Parliamentary Broadcasting Office.

47. Broadcasters also have access to a wall box/live interview position just outside the main Chamber (the "Black and White Corridor") and each has been given free office space.

48. All arrangements are to be renegotiated with the move to a new permanent building.

(b) The National Assembly for Wales

49. The Welsh Assembly based its broadcasting operation on the Westminster example.

50. The Assembly will hold 50 per cent of the shares in a Broadcasting Board equivalent to PARBUL. The contract to both install and run the broadcasting a recording system is held by a Cardiff-based television facility company. The cost of the contract is split equally between the Assembly and the main Welsh broadcasters.

51. Broadcasters receive television coverage of all meetings in the Assembly Chamber, including Committee meetings. Other Committees are covered according to broadcaster demand.

(c) The Northern Ireland Assembly

52. The Northern Ireland Assembly plans to install its own broadcasting system but let an operational and maintenance contract. Funding arrangements are still under discussion.

(d) Coverage at Westminster

53. The Committee has noted that two Early Day Motions[19] have been tabled, urging that proceedings of the Scottish Parliament and of the National Assembly for Wales be carried on the ring main system.

54. Whilst acknowledging that the decision on what is carried on the ring main system is a matter for the Information Committee, the Committee considers that the availability of the proceedings of the devolved legislatures would be an appropriate addition. The Committee is pleased to note that the Information Committee is actively pursuing the possibility of providing coverage of such proceedings.

17   See paras 44-52 below. Back

18   Q 178.  Back

19   EDM 372, Broadcast proceedings of the National Assembly for Wales, and EDM 386, Broadcast proceedings of the Scotland ParliamentBack

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 5 July 2000