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accurately in the regular parliamentary setting rather than on a studio quiz programme. Opponents simply assert that all this is an exaggeration of the power of the television industry, and that bringing cameras into the parliamentary Chambers will not be the ideal antidote its supporters claim.
Fourth, what will be the effect on the mass media industry? Advocates contend that currently Fleet Street, by having access to the debating Chambers which is denied to the electronic media, has an unfair advantage, and that televising proceedings would more fairly equalize access to the news among the mass media. Furthermore, a constant refrain in parliamentary debates, especially in the House of Lords, is that the newspapers are giving insufficient and inaccurate coverage of debates; thus, bringing cameras in will stimulate Fleet Street to give more space to parliamentary proceedings and will challenge the reporters to work for the highest accuracy.
The newspaper industry, of course, defends its coverage of parliamentary proceedings, and goes on to insist that, if television cameras are permitted in the Chambers then press photographers should also be permitted, otherwise newspaper will have unequal access to visual news. This gives the opponents of television of debates an extra argument, for permitting the flash bulbs of the press photographers into the debating Chambers will meet with very little support from Parliamentarians.
Fifth, would televising proceedings make photogenic qualities far more important than they ought to be? Opponents stress that this will be so, indicating that a handsome extrovert will have an unfair advantage in being elected, in being chosen a front bencher, and in being selected by the cameraman and editor. A less attractive person, though far superior in other more important virtues will be unfairly discriminated against, to the peril of democracy. Furthermore, the camera angle and closeups could do injustice even to the most photogenic individual. But advocates counter by asserting that the experiment in the House of Lords did not result in any serious unfairness, and furthermore, the camera can reveal intellectual, moral, and rhetorical qualities, and can unmask incompetence, arrogance, and insincerity. The "real" person becomes known. Advocates also contend that a party is not likely to replace a brilliant, physically unattractive spokesman with a handsome nonentity. It is, of course, admitted that all other factors being equal, photogenic qualities would be a criterion to consider just as it already is considered in this photographic age. By way of postscript on this issue, it is interesting to note that, while many advocates are those who would likely photograph well, there are also many who oppose it, even though they themselves would go over extremely well on television.
Sixth, what will happen to the atmosphere and function of the debating Chambers? An important, persistent claim of opponents is that the intimate, humane dignified atmosphere so fundamental to parliamentary debating will be swept away. Members will leave unsaid things which need to be said. They will play to the gallery, making Parliament more a theatre than a workshop. The debating will become a mere irrelevant ritual, as real persuasion and decisionmaking will take place in Committees (although some Committees may well be televised also), Subcommittees, party caucuses, or informal gatherings in various locationswherever the camera will not be lurking. The physical atmosphere may even be altered (for example, the location of the Speaker's chair) in order to "get a better picture", to satisfy the familiar dictatorial demands of the camera. Advocates say these fears are exaggerated, and that the presence of cameras will help to keep decision-making prominent in the Chambers. In addition, television may well lead to many long-overdue reforms in modernizing parliamentary procedures deemed to be harmfully anachronistic, which slow down the functioning of Parliament and take away valuable time from the discussion of substantive issues.
Specifically, most observers comment on how the speaking and general behavior will be significantly altered, for better or worse. Critics contend that Members will virtually ignore their colleagues and speak to the television audience in a more flamboyant, exhibitionist fashion, with more emotionalism and less logic. Realizing that people watch, rather than listen to, television, Members will be more concerned about making a good visual impression. Members may engage in all kinds of theatrical acts to keep in the limelight when not speaking. They may interrupt a speaker merely to get on camera and to spoil the effect of a speech which is gathering momemtum. They may attend debates in the Chamber merely to be seen on the screen and will thus be shirking other tasks, such as Committee assignments, seeing people in the lobby, or answering mail. Members may be tempted to give two speeches in one, that is, a brief capsule précis for the television editor to seize for his programme, and then go into a longer "second" speech for the immediate audience. Headline phraseology, cuteness in alliteration, and cheap sloganizing rather than solidity of thought and fullness of phrasing will be likely to occur. Television does not like slow, hesitant speakers, so the thoughtful, deliberate person will nor be selected or he may be tempted to speed up unnaturally, making for awkward phrasing and stumbling. Perhaps more set speeches and more speaking from manuscript will result, which will hinder the cut and thrust of parliamentary debate.
The advocates of televising proceedings counter each of these contentions. They assert that Members will not dare to ignore their colleagues and play to the galleries, for they will soon be in serious disfavor.
Furthermore, the medium of television demands an intimate, conversational, informal style; an oratorical, theatrical, emotional flamboyance will be laughed at and will be likely to decrease, not increase. A television audience, after all, is scattered in thousands of isolated rooms, and the speaker must converse with, not orate at them if he is to appeal to them.
The Members will be less, not more likely to engage in ungentlemanly behavior, such as boisterous reactions, inappropriate interruption of speaker, or other camera-catching exhibitionism. The presence of television in other public gatherings has demonstrated that the camera makes people behave more humanely and argue more reasonably. The more frequent attendance in the Chamber will be a plus factor, and also Members may listen more attentively which will raise the level of debate. The giving of "two" speeches will not be all bad; in fact, it may be good, for it will encourage a succinct preview or summary. At any rate, the speaker is certainly likely to prepare his speech more carefully, and be even more concerned about having a logical case well supported with highly credible evidence. He will be encouraged to speak more succinctly, rapidly, and briefly, thus giving more colleagues a chance to speak and reducing the number of frustrated Members in the House of Commons, who now never succeed in catching the Speaker's eye. More points of view and more information will thus be able to be expressed, and more work will be accomplished.
An additional benefit which advocates point out is that televising proceedings will provide a valuable, authentic version of parliamentary debates to supplement the written Hansard. Such an historical document will indeed be invaluable. What would scholars today not give to be able to see and hear the parliamentary clashes between Pitt and Fox or between Gladstone and Disraeli! What a rich opportunity it would be to see and hear the parliamentary contributions of Chatham, Mansfield, Burke, Erskine, Canning, Macaulay, Brougham, Bright, Lloyd George, Churchill, Bevan, and many others! These records could be valuable resources for centuries for scholars around the world, and for television and radio programmes in the distant future.
If so desired, a time period of a few years could be insisted upon before scholars and others would be permitted to use the audio-visual archives. Opponents, however, question the importance of supplementing Hansard in this manner, particularly because of the astronomical cost involved. The Select Committee of the House of Commons concluded in 1966 that money would be a serious limiting factor in building up visual, but not audio, archives:
"... it would be necessary to transfer the record from videotape to 35 mm film, which would cost about £200 per hour. In an average parliamentary year this would mean an annual cost of £250,000. Your Committee consider that this cost is unacceptably high, and ... (thus only) portions of the visual record should be kept permanently. To keep a full sound record permanently would be relatively inexpensive." o These many issues swirling around the questions of feasibility and desirability will have to be probed even more fully before the final answer can be given to the question of "should British parliamentary debates be televised?” But no doubt significant decisions will be made early in this decade.
House of Commons, Issue No. 4, Thursday, May 25, 1972; Tuesday, May 30, 1972; Tuesday, June 27, 1972. Chairman: Mr. D. Gordon Blair, M.P.
Minutes of Proceedings of the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization.
Respecting: Radio and television broadcasting of the proceedings of the House of Commons and its Committees.
Including: The First and Second Reports to the House.
Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization. Chairman: Mr. D. Gordon Blair. Vice-Chairman: Mr. Marcel Lambert. Messrs. Deachman, Forest, Fortin, Jerome, Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre), McCleave, McCutcheon, Penner, Reid, St. Pierre (12).
(Quorum 7) Michael B. Kirby, Clerk of the Committee.
REPORT TO THE HOUSE Thursday, May 18, 1972.
The Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization has the honour to present its
FIRST REPORT Pursuant to its Order of Reference of Monday, February 28, 1972, your Committee has considered the following Votes listed in the Estimates for the Fiscal year ending March 31, 1973:
Vote 1 relating to the Senate;
A copy of the relevant Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence (Issues Nos. 1, 2 and 3) is tabled.
Respectfully submitted, Friday, June 30, 1972.
The Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization has the honour to present its
INTRODUCTION 1. Since March 27, 1972, your Committee has been seized of the following order of reference: That the question of radio and television broadcasting of the proceedings of the House and its committees, including the legal, procedural and technical aspects thereof, and the evidence collected by the committee during the past session in relation to these matters, be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization.
2. The question of broadcasting the proceedings of the House of Commons and its committees was referred to the Committee on March 23, 1970 in the Second Session and on October 28, 1970 in the Third Session of the 28th Parliament. Since receiving the original order of reference, the Committee has heard a number of witnesses and made two visits to the United States. From December 13 to 15, 1970 the Committee was in New York to study the broadcasting operations at the United Nations headquarters and on May 13, 1971 the Committee travelled to Washington to witness a televised sitting of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A tour which was to have taken place in February 1972 and which would have given the Committee the opportunity to study the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings in a number of European Capitals was unavoidably cancelled.
3. Your Committee heard the following witnesses:
From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: Mr. George Davidson, President; Mr. J. P. Gilmore, Vice-President, Planning; Mr. Marcel Quimet, Vice-President, Programming; Mr. Jacques Alleyn, General Counsel. · From Bushnell Communications Limited: Mr. E. Bushnell, Chairman of the Board; Mr. S. W. Griffiths, President and Managing Director; Mr. Roy Faibish, Executive Vice-President; Mr. A. G. Day, Vice-President, Engineering.
From CTV Television Network Ltd.: Mr. J. M. Packham, Vice-President, Finance; Mr. Don MacPherson, Director of News, Features and Information Programming; Mr. Bruce Phillips, Bureau Chief, CTV News, Ottawa
From the House of Commons at Westminister: Sir Barnett Cocks, K.C.B., O.B.E., Clerk of the House of Commons.
From the Parliamentary Press Gallery: Mr. Pierre O'Neill, President; Mr. Fraser Mac Dougall, Past President; Mr. Dave Davidson, Secretary and Mr. Paul D. Akehurst.
From the United Nations Secretariat: Mr. Josef C. Nichols, Chief, International and Satellite Communications Unit, Radio and Visual Services Division and Mr. Ray Jask, Supervisor, United Nations Television Contractual Staff.
Mr. J. P. J. Maingot, Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel submitted a legal opinion and also made several appearances before your Committee.
Mr. Robert McCleave, a member of the Committee, also made a report to the Committee about the use of television in the Legislature of Nova Scotia.
The following made written submissions:
THE DECISION IN PRINCIPLE 4. The decision to be taken in principle is straightforward enough: should parliamentary proceedings be broadcast or not?
5. To arrive at the decision in principle the following questions must be decided : (a) Should the proceedings of the House be broadcast (i) by radio, (ii) by television, (iii) by both radio and television? (6) Should the proceedings of the committees of the House be broadcast (i) by radio, (ii) by television, (iii) by both radio and television?
(It is necessary to pose separate questions regarding the proceedings of the House and the proceedings of committees because it may well be decided to broadcast the one and not the other).
6. If the answers to the above two questions are in the affirmative the following subordinate questions then arise:
(a) Should the broadcasting of the proceedings of the House, whether by radio or television, be partial or total?
(6) Should the broadcasting of the proceedings of the committees of the House, whether by radio or television, be partial or total?
(c) Assuming that the full-time coverage of all committees of the House would be neither feasible nor desirable, what machinery should be established for deciding which particular committees or meetings of committees should be broadcast?
7. If the answers to the questions posed in paragraph 5 are all in the negative, the House might wish to consider whether its proceedings and those of its committees might be broadcast on ceremonial and formal occasions.
8. More detailed questions which would arise from an affirmative decision in principle, such as the type of cameras and equipment to be used, control of the broadcasts, and the need for special legislation are dealt with in later sections of this report.
THE PROS AND CONS 9. In the view of your Committee the arguments in favour of broadcasting parliamentary proceedings are strong. Radio and television, and particularly the latter, have become the most important media of mass communication and can exert a powerful influence on public opinion. If Parliament excludes itself from access to the broadcasting media it may well deny itself the opportunity of making its most effective public impact.
10. Parliament represents the people: its business is the nation's business; and one of its prime responsibilities is to inform the people. The people therefore have a right to see their Parliament in action and through television coverage this right could become a reality for all the people from coast to coast. Through television the public gallery of the House of Commons could be extended to the farthest limits of the nation. The bond between Parliament and the electorate would be strengthened because the House of Commons would be brought into the homes of all who wished to tune in to its proceedings. We are sometimes warned that we are living at a time when all the apparatus of mass suggestion works against democratic education and the unencumbered operation of the democratic process. The televising of Parliament would establish a counterweight and, in the words of the late Aneurin Bevan, encourage "intelligent communication between the House of Commons and the electorate as a whole."
11. At a time when many critics assert that Parliament is archaic, anachronistic, remote from the people or out or touch with reality, an affirmative decision in principle with regard to broadcasting might constitute a very effective rebuttal of such suggestions. While Parliament fails to keep pace with the natural evolutionary processes of mass communication, the critics will always be able to employ a powerful argument to bolster their allegations. At the present time a great deal of important political dialogue takes place before the television cameras which tends to overshadow the debates in Parliament itself. If the public could see Parliament on television greater attention might be paid to what is said in Parliament rather than outside it. A more balanced and representative presentation of public affairs would be able to viewers. To paraphrase the words of one commentator on this aspect of the matter, the entry of television into Parliament would ensure that this potent magnifier of reputations is nct monopolized by interviewers, commentators, academics, and selected politicians whose opportunities depend upon the decision of program editors who are responsible to no electorate. Thus it can be contended that parliamentary democracy would be better served through the curbing of the disproportionate power of those who control board casting and that Parliament would be more accurately and more objectively portrayed.
12. Your Committee is also impressed with the argument that the televising of the proceedings of the House would improve Parliament's communication with the people and would thus assist in promoting Canada's sense of national identity. A televised parliamentary record could give an exciting vitality to the history and national heritage of the country. An audio-visual record of the proceedings of the House would be a permanent and authentic record of Parliament. Great parliamentary occasions would be recorded for posterity, and it would be an historical treasure of incalculable value. If the memorable debates of the past were available today in audio-visual form, if the great parliamentarians of former days could actually be seen and heard in action, the enthralling possibilities which would be opened up for research scholars, teachers, students and the public as a whole can easily be imagined.
13. It is also to be hoped that increased public exposure would enable Parliament to extend its influence and prestige. This would be particularly salutary at a time when the complaint is so frequently heard that the powers of government are becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of the executive. Given the opportunity of seeing Parliament in action the viewing public would more readily be able to appreciate the nature of Parliamentary authority and the fact that the executive governs with the consent of Parliament. If it is accepted that Parliament's most crucial functions in this modern age are to inform, to criticize and to draw public attention to important national issues, then exposure on television should greatly assist Parliament in fulfilling these duties.
14. The arguments which are heard against the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings largely relate to such questions as expense, technical difficulties, the working conditions of Members and the problems of editing.
15. Cost is a major factor only in relation to the televising of Parlia ment since sound broadcasting would not appear to involve a great deal of expense. It is true that the cost of a permanent installation is to some extent an unknown factor, particularly since it is not known what structural alterations would be required to the existing Parliament buildings. Some critics suggest that there would not be enough interest in the daily proceedings of Parliament to justify the costs which would be involved in televising them. It is doubtful, however, that these costs would be prohibitive in relation to public expenditure in general.
16. The cost to the public purse would be minimal if the House were to admit the broadcasters on condition that they finance the operation themselves. From the evidence received it would appear that some broadcasters would be prepared to finance the operation provided they were permitted to recover their costs through charges to other users of the material. If such a solution were adopted the House would presumably be required to pay only for the tapes which it decided to purchase for record purposes.
17. Because of the nature of the Parliament buildings it would be wise to anticipate technical problems if a decision were taken to proceed with a permanent television installation. However, whatever form these problems might take your Committee has heard no evidence to suggest that they are likely to be insurmountable. The principal technical difficulty might well prove to be the effect which television would have upon the working conditions of Members.
18. Some critics insist that the disruption which would be caused by a permanent invasion of broadcasters and their equipment into the Chamber would be intolerable. They fear that the working conditions of Members would be seriously impaired; that the intensity of the lighting required would produce dazzling and overheated conditions; that the comings and goings of technical personnel would be distracting; that there would be cables to trip over, equipment to bump into, noise to contend with.
19. Your Committee accepts the validity of these anxieties but believes that the problems can be overcome. There is evidence to indicate that it is possible to operate the apparatus which would be required without any exaggerated disruption of the proceedings. Minature remote-controlled cameras are available; controllers, operators and commentators can work in concealed conditions, and although bright lighting would be required, techniques exist which can limit the discomfort caused by heat intensity.
20. Some critics express reservations with regard to how broadcasting would affect Parliament's image and how objective and unbiased editing by the broad