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52. Parliamentary proceedings are broadcast by both television and radio in both Chambers and in Committees. Live broadcasts occur on occasions of major interest but the more normal practice is for recorded material to be utilized during evening newscasts. The selection of items for inclusion is at the discretion of the broadcasting editor. Television broadcasts are selective and occur only infrequently, but it seems that radio coverage occurs more frequently, recorded extracts being used every evening after 10:30 p.m. while Parliament is in session. The broadcasting of committees is very infrequent because the subjects dealt with are usually fairly technical and do not attract great public interest. Furthermore, some committee meetings are held in camera.
53. The radio and television authorities in Holland have standing permission granted by Parliament to cover the debates of both Chambers. In practice the proceedings of the First Chamber (Upper House) are seldom broadcast. It appears that public interest in parliamentary broadcasting is limited and the decision as to what will be broadcast depends on what issues the broadcasting authorities feel will generate sufficient public interest. Saskatchewan
54. Radio broadcasting of selected proceedings of the Saskatchewan Legislature was introduced in 1946 and has continued ever since. The broadcasts cover the two major debates of the Assembly, the debate on the Address and the budget debate, which continue for a maximum of seven and eight days respectively. The selection of speeches to be broadcast is made by a Standing Committee under the chairmanship of the Speaker and the allocation of radio time is apportioned on the basis of party standings in the House, the Whips being responsible for the allocation of time to individual Members. The broadcasts begin fifteen minutes after the commencement of the sitting and last for one and one quarter hours from 2:45 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. The debates are broadcast live by some stations and rebroadcast by others. In neither case is there any editing. News commentators have not attempted to play back extracts from tapes, but it seems there is no record of this having been expressly forbidden. No records of the broadcasts are kept except those taped records, prepared independently of the broadcasts, from which the Official Report is prepared. Nova Scotia
55. From March 22 to April 8, 1971, the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia conducted a three-week television experiment during which the entire proceedings were recorded and the broadcasters did the editing. Both the C.B.C. and the C.T.V. were involved in the experiment and it appears that the editing was fair and the public reaction favourable.
56. Two large Marconi cameras were installed in the galleries, one on either side of the Speaker's Chair. As a result the camera angles were not ideal. A member of your Committee, Mr. R. J. McCleave, observed the experiment during one week and recorded his impressions in a brief report, from which the following paragraphs are extracted:
The CBC installed two large cameras, Marconi, in the galleries on either side of the Legislature. The Nova Scotia house meets in a small room, and the seats run in a half-oval on three sides. Camera angles were generally acute. and sometimes unflattering to the bald or balding. It might also be noted that in any event too many MLA's were seen with their faces lowered, and this was disconcerting-a situation due to the acute camera angles. Mr. Speaker George Mitchell was always seen in profile, since there was no camera directly in front of him.
Early in the experiment, the usually well-lit room was brightened by extra lights. These were removed after complaints by Mr. Speaker and members. There was no appreciable loss of telecast quality, although purists familiar with focusing would notice delays in shifting from an opposition questioner to a replying Minister, and the hand of a member seated back of the member on camera might appear double life-size.
The output of the two cameras was fed into a large van situated outside the Legislature.
As for sound, this was obtained off the microphone recording system in the Legislature ... The only reservation about the sound system is that the pounding on the desks comes across like an outbreak of cannonading, and distressed many viewers.
57. It appears that no further steps are contemplated in Nova Scotia for the time being. After the experiment the media proposed that the Government should defray the expenses of any further television coverage and the Government declined to do so. A complete radio tape is now made which the media are permitted to edit. Alberta
58. On March 15, 1972 the Legislative Assembly of Alberta decided to admit the television cameras to their Friday sittings. Both the C.B.C. and C.T.V. were approached and it was the latter which agreed to the proposal. The coverage which takes place consists mainly of the question period and is rebroadcast on the following Sunday. From the evidence available to your Committee it appears that the editing has been fair, and while no specific guidelines have been laid down no problems have so far arisen.
59. Two cameras are used which are situated on the floor of the Chamber to the right and left of the Speaker. The question period is regulated in such a way that the Speaker notes the Members who wish to ask a question and gives the nod to each Member when his turn arises. The camera does not therefore present the viewer with the spectacle of Members continually standing up and sitting down.
60. The televising of the proceedings has been provided for in the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly. There is no radio coverage but the media would be permitted to plug into the Assembly's own sound system. It is also interesting to note that tape recorders are permitted in the press gallery. Press cameras are also permitted provided no flash is used and the Speaker's permission is obtained.
THE TECHNICAL ASPECT F1 From a technical point of view it is clear that the broadcasting of parliament ry proceedings by radio and television is a feasible proposition. If the Haus were to take an affirmative decision in principle, radio broadcasting could be introduced almost at once. The adoption of the present sound and simultareous interpretation systems used in the House and in committee rooms to permit radio broadcasting would pose no technical difficulties. But while radio could easily be introduced it should be borne in mind that the questions of law, editing and control which would arise if the proceedings were televised would be similar in the case of radio.
62. Television broadcasting raises more weighty technical questions and several options would be open to the House with regard to the modus operandi. Some of the methods which would be available for conducting a television operation are briefly summarized below: Complete audio-visual record of proceedings or electronic Hansard
63. This option envisages the maintenance of a continuous and permanent audio-visual record of the complete proceedings of the House and of selected committees. It would be produced by staff employed by the House with equipment owned by the House and it would be fed to a central control to provide the broadcasters with a direct audio-visual feed from the Chamber and from the committee rooms where broadcasting was taking place. The broadcasters would be free to make such use of the material as they thought appropriate subject to the conditions and guidelines laid down by the House. They could feed it live to the networks or keep it for subsequent rebroadcasting. They could edit and select from it for news, documentary and other public affairs programming. It would be in effect an electronic Hansard which the broadcasters could use in much the same way as the press uses the printed Hansard and other Parliamentary publications.
64 This option contemplates a permanent installation of television broadcasting equipment to record the proceedings in the Chamber. Portable equipment could be used in committee rooms if, as your Committee assumes, the televiang of committee proceedings were to be selective. Perhaps in the case of certain committees a complete audiovisual record would be desirable. A method of selecting the committees to be broadcast would need to be devised probably through consultation with the representatives of the broadcasting media. Pool Operation on demand of Broadcasters
65. This would in effect be a joint operation by broadcasters who would employ their own staff and equipment to cover the proceedings of the House and committees. Under this system, the broadcasters would request permission through
a pre-determined procedure to cover a particular debate or series of debates in the House or meeting or series of meetings of committees, and would then proceed to install and operate their equipment when permission was granted. The House would control the operation by laying down its own conditions and guidelines and broadcasting would take place only on the basis of the demand by the broadcasters. Private Contractor or Licensed Operator
66. A variation of the "pool operation", this alternative envisages that the House would enter into a contract with a private broadcaster or contractor to cover the proceedings cf the House and its committees. The selection of the proceedings to be broadcast would presumably be decided at the request of the broadcasters and the coverage would take place under such conditions and guidelines as the House would specify. The advantage of this option lies in the greater control it would give to the House over production operations. Cablevision Operation
67. Envisaged by this option is a continuous live transmission of all proceedings of the House over a cablevision system. It would also allow for the simultaneous recording and storage of the proceedings for rebroadcasting purposes. From the evidence submitted to your Committee, it would appear that it would not be possible for this system to be introduced immediately on a coast to coast basis and it should be noted that this method would allow for either a “demand-pool operation" or a “contractor or licensed operator" operation. As with the electronic Hansard, it also envisages the permanent installation of facilities in the House itself. Other Technical Considerations
68. With all of the above options, various technical considerations are involved, and your Committee feels that these are aspects on which it requires a great deal more information before it can make a final recommendation. Your Committee thinks that it is better to confine itself at this stage to stating in general terms the various technical problems which have been raised. It is felt that the House should have the benefit of detailed expert knowledge which would arise out of a cost and technical study of the kind which is discussed later in this Report.
69. Your Committee is convinced that no Member would want to see the Chamber of the House interfered with or changed in any radical way by the introduction of television. Therefore, very serious questions arise as to the type of camera that should be used in the House. For example, should they be remote controlled or live operated cameras? Evidence before your Committee suggested that remote controlled cameras could be discreetly hung from the balconies surrounding the House. But questions were raised as to the technical quality of such cameras for broadcasting purposes. Manually operated cameras would have to be positioned in the galleries and would in the opinion of some witnesses and Members intrude seriously on the Chamber. The type of camera and the positioning of the apparatus are factors which your Committee feels require very serious study.
70. If it is decided to televise the proceedings of the House, it will then have to be decided whether to do so in colour or in black and white. This raises important considerations with regard to lighting. Colour television demands very bright lights which result in high temperatures in the Chamber which the present air conditioning system does not appear capable of handling. The recent experience of Members during the visit of the President of the United States when he addressed both Houses was most uncomfortable and leads your Committee to conclude that such lighting without provision for adequate air conditioning would result in very uncomfortable conditions in the Chamber.
71. There are many other allied problems which need to be studied. These concern the staff and the accommodation necessary to the operation, methods of insuring that cameras are properly handled, simultaneous interpretation, the need for an informed commentator who would be able to explain the proceedings to the listening and viewing public, and the arrangements which should be made for committee meetings held outside the precincts of Parliament.
STILL PHOTOGRAPHY 72. Still photography is not mentioned in the Committee's order of reference, but it should be taken into consideration, because if television cameras are admitted into the Chamber a demand for equal rights on the part of the press has to be anticipated. At present still photography is allowed in committee rooms
prior to the commencement of a committee hearing. This system has much to commend it. It permits the press to take their photographs before a meeting but prevents the intrusion of photographers while a committee is conducting a hearing such as your Committee witnessed at the meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington.
73. If the House were to allow the taking of still photographs in the Chamber, it would be essential to insist on the use of cameras which do not require a flash and your Committee understands that there are such cameras available on the market. If the House were to admit press photographers consideration would have to be given to the times at which such photographs would be permitted and the vantage points from which they could be taken. It would not, for example, be possible to permit photographers to roam at will through the Chamber in search of the most favourable vantage point. It would also be desirable to ensure that any photographs taken in the Chamber would be representative of the House at work and not simply designed to draw attention to a sparse attendance such as can be expected, for example, during Private Members' Hour on a Friday afternoon.
CONTROL OF THE BROADCASTS 74. If the House agrees to the broadcasting of its proceedings your Committee believes that it should maintain overall control over the broadcasts regardless of the option which is selected. Although your Committee has every confidence that the broadcasting media would exercise responsible judgment in the selection of material, it is felt that the editing should take place under the authority of the House and in accordance with conditions and guidelines laid down by the House, A broadcast record cannot be edited in the manner of a press report; it can be edited only by selection and cutting, and if the media were free to select the material without any sanction or testraint the risk of abuse would always be present. What is at stake is the dignity of Parliament as an institution. Your Committee has no thought of presenting Members of Parliament to the public in a rosier light than they deserve. Members must accept the consequences of their words and actions just like other citizens. But they are entitled to be protected from misrepresentation and manufactured ridicule and from the kind of affront which would reflect on Parliament as an institution,
75. The question of control of editorship must be considered in conjunction with the method by which the broadcasting operation would be conducted. It seems that there are three possible methods which could be employed. In the first place the House could take over the entire operation itself which would involve purchasing its own equipment, establishing a permanent installation in the building and recruiting its own staff of directors, editors, cameramen and technicians. Continuous live transmission of the complete proceedings of the House would be broadcast over special radio and television channels. If the House were to direct the entire operation in this way no real problems of editorship would arise unless private broadcasters were also given access to the audio-visual material to use and edit as they pleased.
76. The modus operandi described in the preceding paragraph would give rise to serious practical problems since it would call for special radio and television channels. Even if such channels could be made available they would be permanently occupied with the proceedings of the House of Commons and if the Senate were also to decide to broadcast its proceedings it would be necessary either to find additional special channels or to come to some arrangement whereby the two Houses shared the broadcasting time. Furthermore, if special channels were permanently occupied with the proceedings in the Chamber it might be difficult to make provision for the broadcasting of committee proceedings. Quite apart from these problems a continuous live transmission would not always bring the highlights of debate to the viewing public during prime viewing hours.
77. Your Committee therefore takes the view that if the House were to decide to direct its own operation it should limit itself to making a complete audiovisual record of the proceedings and providing the broadcasters with access to it to use as they saw fit subject to the conditions and guide-lines laid down by the House. If this option were selected the House would still employ its own staff and equipment but would not undertake the task of editorship for rebroadcasting purposes. It could, however, reserve to itself the right to oversee the editorship of the broadcasts.
78. The third option open to the House would be to decide against installing a system of its own and to leave the entire management of the broadcasting operation to the broadcasters themselves who would use their own staff and equipment. In this case the financial arrangements would have to be worked
out in agreement between the House and the broadcasters. The work of editorship would be the entire responsibility of the broadcasters but it would take place in accordance with the conditions and guide-lines laid down by the House which could maintain general oversight and control.
79. The machinery of supervisory control could be fundamentally similar whether the broadcasters recorded the material themselves or were given access to an electronic Hansard recorded and owned by the House. Two methods of control suggest themselves to your Committee.
80. The first method would be to vest direct control in Mr. Speaker who would make such arrangements as in his discretion he deemed necessary to ensure effective surveillance of the use made of the material. If the House were to maintain its own electronic Hansard he would control the access to the material and would have the right to take disciplinary action against broadcasters who abused their privileges. This action would presumably take the form of denial of access to the audio-visual material. If the House were to delegate the running of the operation to the broadcasters, Mr. Speaker would maintain a similar surveillance of their activities and would have the right to suspend a broadcaster's privileges or refuse him permission to initiate broadcasts. In short, Mr. Speaker would protect the rights of Members in any way which would seem to him to be necessary and would presumably deal with any question of privilege relating to the broadcasts in the same way as he deals now with other questions of privilege,
81. The second alternative would be to vest control in a committee of the House which could either be a committee specifically nominated for the purpose or an existing committee such as the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization. As has already been mentioned above, this responsibility in Australia is discharged by a Joint Committee of both Houses and its powers and responsibilities are set out in the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act of 1946.
82. If a committee of the House were to assume these responsibilities its terms of reference would presumably permit it to set down the general conditions and policy guide-lines under which the broadcasters would be permitted to operate, subject to the confirmation of the House. If the House owned the facilities the Committee might be given certain responsibilities in connection with the hiring of staff and the purchase of equipment. In these circumstances access to the electronic Hansard would be controlled by the committee and the use made of the audio-visual material would be required to conform to its conditions and guide-lines. If the broadcasters ran the operation themselves they would have to conform to similar conditions and guide-lines in the use they made of the material they recorded. The right to take disciplinary action where necessary could also fall within the competence of the committee, if the House deemed this to be desirable. In this case the committee would presumably be authorized to deal with any complaints by Members referred to it by Mr. Speaker. It would probably not be feasible, however, to involve the committee in the daily administration of the broadcasting operation.
83. In considering the guide-lines to be laid down for the control of broadcasting, reference might be made to section 116 of the United States Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970. This section lays down extensive ground rules for the broadcasting of congressional committee hearings. The Section provides, inter alia, that the broadcast coverage of committee hearings should be "in conformity with acceptable standards of dignity, propriety and decorum”; that their purpose shall be "for the education, enlightment and information of the general public''; that "the tapes may not be used for any partisan political purpose''; that not more than four television cameras operating from fixed positions shall be permitted in a hearing room; that the intensity of any additional lighting employed should be limited to what is strictly necessary; that flood-lights, spotlights and similar devices shall be prohibited; that not more than five press photographers shall be permitted to cover a hearing by still photography; and that the staff and equipment employed shall not be permitted to cause any kind of obstruction to the proceedings of the committee. The Section empowers the committee to decide whether nor not to admit the broadcasters and photographers and also prohibits commercial sponsorship.
84. A number of the witnesses who gave evidence before your Committee stressed that an expert commentator would be needed to explain points of procedure to the listening and viewing audience when parliamentary broadcasts were being transmitted. This is an important consideration which any system of control should take into account before guide-lines are finalized.
85. One witness referred in his evidence to the fact that the greater part of the proceedings of Parliament take place in the English language. The fact would