Television: Rules of Coverage - Administration Committee Contents

Annex 1: rules of coverage

The rules, as amended in 2006, are set out below:

The following rules apply to the television coverage of official proceedings of Parliament.

1. Statement of objectives

The director should seek, in close collaboration with the Director of Broadcasting, to give a full, balanced, fair and accurate account of proceedings, with the aim of informing viewers about the work of the House.

(It is noted that the director should have regard to the dignity of the House and to its function as a working body rather than a place of entertainment.)

2. Specific guidelines for picture direction

a) Restriction of Filming Certain Parts of Chamber, etc.

i) The press and public galleries, the officials' and visitors' boxes, and the area behind the Speaker's Chair, not being directly related to proceedings, should not be shown, other than unavoidably as part of wide-angle or other authorised shots of the Chamber.

ii) Great care should be exercised in showing the occupant of the Chair. Shots designed to show the Speaker receiving advice from a Clerk at the Table should not be used. Officers of the House and Doorkeepers attending in the Chamber should not normally be shown, unless they are taking an active part in the proceedings.

iii) During Divisions, a wide-angle shot of the Chamber may be used. In addition, the following events relating to Divisions may be shown using the standard format described in sub-paragraph 2.(b)(i): the putting of the Question, both initially and after the two minute interval; the announcement of the names of the Tellers; any points of order which may arise, together with any response by the Chair; and the announcement by the Tellers and the Chair of the voting figures.

iv) In no circumstances should close-up shots of Members' or Officers' papers be taken.

b) Style and Presentation

i) The standard format for depicting the Member who has the floor should be a head and shoulders shot, not a close-up.

ii) Subject to sub-paragraphs (iii) to (vii) below, the camera should normally remain on the Member speaking until he or she has finished.

iii) Wide-angle shots of the Chamber may be used from time to time: for example, while the director is seeking a closer shot of a Member who has just been called, at times when no single Member has the floor, and to establish the geography of the House for the benefit of viewers.

iv) As a matter of general practice, the director should switch to a picture of the occupant of the Chair whenever he or she rises; this principle should be applied all the more strictly during incidents of disorder or altercations between Chair and other Members.

v) Occasional cut-away shots to illustrate individual reactions are allowed, usually to show a Member who has been referred to by the Member speaking.

vi) Medium-angle shots, including over-the-shoulder shots, are permissible where the director wishes to show both the Member who has the floor and another Member intervening or seeking to do so.

vii) Occasional group shots—mid-way between the standard head and shoulders shot and the wide-angle shot—are permitted; such shots may be used either for the purposes of showing the reaction of a group of Members, or in order to establish the geography of a particular part of the Chamber.

c) Special Camera Techniques

i) In no circumstances are split-screen shots to be used.

ii) Panning shots along the benches should not normally be used.

iii) Occasional zoom shots are permitted.

3. Treatment of disorder

a) Disorder in the Galleries

i) Neither interruptions from, nor demonstrations in, the galleries are "Proceedings", and as such they should in no circumstances be televised.

ii) If an incident of the sort described in sub-paragraph (i) above occurs in such a way as to interfere with an otherwise permissible shot, the director should cut either to a wide-angle shot of the Chamber which does not show the offending incident, or to the occupant of the Chair.

b) Disorder on the Floor of the House

Televising may continue during incidents of grave disorder or unparliamentary behaviour for as long as the sitting continues, but only subject to the following guidelines:

i) On occasions of grave disorder, the director should normally focus on the occupant of the Chair for as long as proceedings continue, or until order has been restored. (By "grave disorder" is meant incidents of individual, but more likely collective, misconduct of such a serious disruptive nature as to place in jeopardy the continuation of the sitting.)

ii) In cases of unparliamentary behaviour, the director should normally focus on the occupant of the Chair, and should certainly do so if he or she rises, but occasional wide-angle shots of the Chamber are acceptable. (The phrase "unparliamentary behaviour" is intended to signify any conduct which amounts to defiance of the Chair but which falls short of grave disorder.)

4. Westminster Hall

The rules of coverage for the Chamber shall be applied.

5. Select Committees

The rules of coverage for the Chamber shall be applied, except that:

i) Reaction shots should be limited to Members to whom a clear reference has been made or who have asked a question of a witness.

ii) Reaction of the public gallery should not be shown.

iii) Committee staff, the press, and shorthand writers should not be shown other than unavoidably as part of another authorised shot.

iv) No close-up shots of Members' or officials' papers should be taken.

6. Standing Committees

The rules of coverage for the Chamber shall be applied. Officials attending Ministers should not be shown.

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© Parliamentary copyright 2012
Prepared 13 June 2012