My submission on the use of Parliament TV coverage.

For those interested here is the submission I made to the Committee:

I propose that the conditions should be simplified as follows:


“(1)     Official television coverage of the House is made available on the following conditions:
Any broadcast or rebroadcast of coverage must comply with the broadcaster’s legal obligations.
Coverage of proceedings must not be used in any medium for—
(a)       political advertising or election campaigning (except with the permission of all members shown):
(b)       commercial sponsorship or commercial advertising.

Reports that use extracts of coverage of proceedings and purport to be summaries must be fair and accurate.
(2)       Breach of these conditions may result in a loss of access to official television coverage, and may be treated as a contempt and proceeded  against accordingly.”

So in essence I propose deleting the ban on political or election campaigning, and the requirement that extracts be fair and accurate.

The House is a forum where MPs debate legislation and policies. It is inherently political. To ban the use of footage for political advertising is hard to justify as a matter of principle, and unless there is a clear overwhelming reasons for a ban, permission should be the norm.

On a practical note, defining what is or is not a political or election ad can be challenging. Supporters of political parties often use footage from the House in social media memes. The current standing order makes this a breach.  Do we want the Speaker to be constantly deciding day in and day out, whether a particular use is or is not political?

The current controversy over the Deborah Russell video is a good example. One can make a case that it isn’t a political or election ad. As a fan of the classics myself, I actually think the footage shows Ms Russell in an excellent light, showing she is well educated, and can relate history to current times. Others may disagree. We should not expect the Speaker to be making such determinations.

In terms of the requirement that reports must be fair and accurate, I again don’t believe this is the role of the Speaker and/or the Privileges Committee to decide.

If an advertisement is unfair or inaccurate then we have an excellent self-regulatory regime through the Advertising Standards Authority to deal with these.

If the footage is used in an online media story, then the Media Council can deal with complaints of inaccuracy or unfairness.

If the footage is used by broadcast media, the Broadcasting Standards Authority can deal with complaints of inaccuracy or unfairness.

So in summary I would change the Appendix to read:


“(1)     Official television coverage of the House is made available on the following conditions:
Any broadcast or rebroadcast of coverage must comply with the broadcaster’s legal obligations.
Coverage of proceedings must not be used in any medium for commercial sponsorship or commercial advertising.
(2)       Breach of these conditions may result in a loss of access to official television coverage, and may be treated as a contempt and proceeded against accordingly.”
 
   
David Farrar

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