Select Committee on Broadcasting First Report


(a)The Committee recommends that the House considers whether members of the Broadcasting Committee be precluded from membership of PARBUL. At the same time, it would, of course, be invaluable for the Chairman of the Committee to be able to report the Committee's views and concerns to PARBUL, and vice versa. We therefore recommend further that the Chairman of the Committee be accorded "observer status" to PARBUL, with all rights, save that of voting (paragraph 30).
(b)The Committee has the delegated authority to lift the restriction on the use of reaction shots of named or identifiable Members during Question Time, Ministerial Statements and Private Notice Questions; we propose to exercise that authority, with effect from the start of Session 2000-2001 (paragraph 41).
(c)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 (paragraph 54).
(d)The Committee considers that, if Sittings of the House in Westminster Hall are made permanent, all proceedings in Westminster Hall must be televised, and therefore recommends that the House should ensure that the necessary broadcasting facilities and equipment are provided. The Committee understands that to provide such a facility would cost in the region of £600,000 (paragraph 57).
(e)At the invitation of this Committee, the broadcaster members of PARBUL submitted to the Administration Committee a request to provide a TV access point in the Palace itself from which broadcasters could record, or broadcast live, brief interviews with Members of the House. We are pleased to note that the Administration Committee has responded constructively to this request, and has introduced an experiment, which is being carried out between Easter and Summer this year, siting such a point in the small vestibule situated off Central Lobby (paragraph 65).
(f)We were also pleased to note that the Administration Committee has lifted the restriction, which was a source of irritation and frustration to both Parliamentarians and broadcasters alike, on filming in Members' own offices. (Paragraph 66).
(g)We conclude that, in the terms that the televising of the House was originally conceived, the availability of coverage has failed, and continues to fail, the people of the United Kingdom by broadcasters cherry-picking the sound-bite and the confrontational. As far as televising Parliament is concerned, the broadcasters' duty is to educate and inform, not simply entertain (paragraph 77).
(h)We recommend that the relevant officials of both Houses actively pursue webcast potential, and to seek those areas where both Houses can act together in order to ensure that "access to Parliament" is available to all. The ideal would be for this access to include sound feed and, at least, limited vision coverage, of all public sessions of Committees of the House to be available via the internet (paragraph 101).
(i)The Committee considers that there is a case for re-examining, in the light of the investment necessary in new technology, whether or not the time has come for Parliament to take possession of Parliamentary Broadcasting, to fund it centrally, to contract out as at present for the generation of the material, and to re-coup such costs as it can from the sale of material to broadcasters at home and overseas (paragraph 111).
(j)The Committee recognises and appreciates the important role that PARBUL has played during the first ten years of the televising of the House; however, we are by no means certain that its structure is best suited to the provision of both the necessary capital investment and revenue funding to sustain the enhanced service that will be required for the future (paragraph 116).

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