CHAPTER 5: BROADCASTING
Filming of Lords proceedings
82. The House of Lords has always taken a more
relaxed view of cameras in the Chamber than the House of Commons,
and in 1985 the Lords was the first Chamber to begin a televising
experiment. When the Commons began an experiment televising its
proceedings in November 1989, it imposed rules of coverage to
"protect the dignity of the House". The rules were drawn
up to give the House of Commons some control over how it is portrayed
on television. They set out what shots may and may not be used,
and what may and may not be shown. Broadcasting rules have never
been formally adopted in the House of Lords, but in practice debates
have been filmed within broadly the same parameters as in the
House of Commons. The Puttnam Commission recommended that the
rules of coverage be relaxed so as to interest and engage the
viewer. We first considered this recommendation in December 2005,
and our conclusions led to a new protocol governing filming in
the Lords Chamber. The protocol relaxed the rules and conventions
that govern what the broadcasters can film when the House is sitting.
As a result, the director filming proceedings can use a greater
variety of shots, such as panning shots, close ups and reaction
shots. The House of Commons adopted a similar change to its rules
on broadcasting later in 2006.
All the broadcasters we spoke to welcomed these developments and
explained how they had helped to make parliamentary proceedings
more watchable. The BBC said that the result is that "more
people are now watching and they are watching for longer"
(p 85). Nonetheless, the broadcasters said that further changes
were warranted. They asked for lower camera angles in the Lords
Chamber, permission to film divisions and unrestricted access
to the wide shot of the Chamber (pp 85, 89; QQ 304-07).
83. The Committee welcomes the effect that
the 2006 protocol governing filming in the Chamber has had on
coverage of Lords proceedings. Nonetheless, we consider that more
could be done to make footage of parliamentary proceedings interesting
for viewers. Later this year, we will review the arrangements
for broadcasting Lords proceedings to make the footage more engaging.
As a first step, we recommend that there should be a trial period
in the 2009-10 parliamentary session during which divisions in
the Lords are recorded from within the division lobbies. The images
could be broadcast accompanied by the atmospheric sound feed from
the Chamber which broadcasters currently use when covering a division,
so that specific conversations are not picked up.
Access to the House for filming
84. The Puttnam Commission recommended "a
relaxation of the rules for filming in the precincts of Parliament".
We considered this recommendation in December 2005 and agreed
that broadcasters should be offered access to a point in Peers
Lobby for filming interviews. A recorded interview was installed
in 2006, and this was upgraded to a live facility in 2007. The
broadcasters said that this development had been "a great
step forward" (Q 299).
85. Despite that advance, all of the broadcasters
called for wider access to film in the Palace. For instance, they
asked for permission to film interviews in rooms other than the
official interview rooms, such as in members' offices or the Royal
Gallery (pp 85-90; QQ 298-303). ITV Regions said that there
seemed to be "a presumption against filming in many parts
of the Palace" which was "inhibiting coverage".
They said that the current arrangements were "frustrating"
and "confusing", and complained that there is "no
obvious comprehensive list of rules which is easily available
for broadcast journalists" (p 89). We note that the
leaflet setting out the regulations governing photography, filming,
sound recording, painting, sketching, mobile telephones and pagers
was last published in 2002.
86. It is clear to us that there is some confusion
about access to the House for filming, and we would like to clarify
two points. First, members may be interviewed for radio, TV or
filming purposes in their own offices without a permit. Second,
filming may take place at certain times on the Terrace without
a permit. On sitting days members can be interviewed on the
Terrace either before noon or before either House sits, whichever
is earlier. On non-sitting days filming on the Terrace may take
place up to 17.30. The member who arranged the filming is responsible
for security; the member should meet the film crew and escort
them around the House at all times.
87. The broadcasters suggested that "there
should be a presumption in favour of filming throughout the parliamentary
estate except where it is specifically banned. That would make
the rules clearer and easier to understand for everyone and would
improve coverage especially if there were a wider range of interview
points (in addition to Central Lobby and Portcullis House) available
throughout the Palace" (p 89). The BBC agreed that if
Parliament were to move from having "a very complicated inherited
set of rules, which is where we are now," to a "presumption
of access", including "access to public events for cameras"
and "access to public areas to do sit-down interviews
then that would be huge progress." (Q 297)
88. Peter Knowles, Controller of BBC Parliament,
explained the consequence of the current rules of access: "There
is a gap at the moment. We get coverage of the ceremonial and
the art and architecture, and there is wall to wall coverage of
the Chamber and of certain [committee] hearings, but in between
the two there is hardly a glimpse of what this place is like."
He drew our attention to the system in place for filming in the
Scottish Parliament, where "the broadcasters and the journalists
operate under rules, it is not a free-for-all, but you all the
time have a sense of meetings going on, of people moving around
and doing work." In contrast, the public "rarely"
gets to see the House of Lords "as a place of work"
89. We recommend that there should be greater
access to the House of Lords for factual filming. We suggest that
there should be a presumption in favour of factual filming throughout
the House of Lords, except in specific areas (such as, the Library
and refreshment outlets) where filming would not normally be permitted.
The presumption should be that meetings and events to which the
public are admitted without invitation can be filmed and that
members can be interviewed in public areas. Once the rules of
access for filming have been reviewed, we recommend that the administration
revise the leaflet setting out the regulations governing photography,
filming, sound recording, painting, sketching, mobile telephones
and pagers so that the regulations can be readily understood.
We recommend that a more appropriate room be assigned for interviews.
90. Since the Puttnam Commission, there has been
a major upgrading of the facilities for webcasting parliamentary
proceedings. The webcasting site
was redesigned in 2006, and since 2007 there has been a programme
to install unattended webcams in committee rooms, which is still
91. ITV Regions welcomed the expansion of webcasting
(p 90), and the BBC said that the video webcasting of committees
was "especially helpful to specialist researchers and to
journalists." It had enabled Today in Parliament to
cover "a wider range of hearings" than had previously
been possible (p 85). ITN suggested that the House should
contextualise coverage of its proceedings on the web (e.g. by
providing further information on the member speaking and the subject
of the debate) "to help the viewer understand what they are
watching" (p 88). The Hansard Society suggested providing
links alongside the footage to "Order Papers, bills, biographical
information about speakers, etc" (p 16). ITV Regions
said that contextualisation of proceedings would "assist
public understanding of the proceedings of the House" (p 90).
The BBC website already shows the live proceedings of the Lords
with captions giving names, designations and other contextual
information (p 85).
92. The Committee welcomes the expansion of
webcasting. We recommend that all public meetings of Lords committees
be webcast with video as well as audio, in order to make the meetings
easier to follow online. We recommend that, once Parliament has
changed the way in which it generates the underlying data (see
above, paragraph 66), the next development for webcasting should
be for the parliamentary website to provide contextual information
alongside House of Lords proceedings.
Recommendations on Broadcasting
16 The protocol can be found in a Written Statement
by the Chairman of Committees (Lords Hansard, 13 February
2006, WS 54). Back
See the answers by Frank Doran MP, Chairman of the House of Commons
Administration Committee to written questions on 20 June 2006
(Commons Hansard, column 1725W) and 19 December 2006 (column 1795W). Back
The Administration and Works Committee considers requests for
permission to make programmes about the House and approved these