Television: Rules of Coverage - Administration Committee Contents

Annex 2: amended rules of coverage

The changes that we suggest in the body of the Report would result in the rules 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 Parliamentary Broadcasting, to give a full, balanced, fair and accurate account of proceedings, with the aim of informing viewers about the work of the House.

The director should have regard to the integrity of the House and its function as a working body.

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 authorised shots of the Chamber.

ii) Great care should be exercised in showing the occupant of the Chair. Staff of the House should not normally be shown, unless they are taking an active part in the proceedings, or unavoidably as part of an authorised shot.

    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): 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 officials' 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) The camera should normally remain on the Member speaking until he or she has finished.

    iii) 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.

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

c) Special Camera Techniques

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

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, Select Committees and General Committees

The rules of coverage for the Chamber shall be applied.

Reaction of the public gallery should not be shown, other than unavoidably as part of an authorised shot. Officials attending Ministers should not be shown, except unavoidably as part of an authorised shot.

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© Parliamentary copyright 2012
Prepared 13 June 2012