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Parliamentary TV – should we shut it?

Written By: - Date published: 8:44 am, September 30th, 2019 - 51 comments
Categories: Dirty Politics, Gerry Brownlee, politicans, Politics, Simon Bridges - Tags: ,

Occasionally, this site puts up a video from parliament. Probably happens a few times per month at best.  Which since this site is one that is dedicated to politics in NZ indicates not a whole lot of interest. The number of readers of posts who click into those videos is a very small fraction of the post readers. So small that they barely register.

Outside of the video starved TV news micro-clips, I suspect that the few political sites around are probably one of the biggest users of  parliaments video outside of the politicians themselves. If only because the major media sites outside of TV don’t put them up virtually at all except as political advertising.

So are we, the public, getting value from it. Well yes. It stands as a record of the debate in parliament. But as far as I can tell – not that all that much. It is a marginal exercise at best.

It is useful to have to look up from dryness of Hansard and the even drier detail of the bills and law making that are the business of parliament and see what MPs are currently posturing like. 

So is it worth the costs, which are substantive. At best, and as a political aficionado,  I’d say that at best it is a toss-up.

But as soon as they start becoming feedstock for out of context, half arsed clickbait made by partisan dimwits, which is apparently what the National Party are making a unprincipled stand over – then their social cost goes up dramatically.

You only have to look at the US attack political social media advertising market in the US to see that. Such ‘fun’ masquerading under the cover of free speech  is simply the spreader of lying because of the short clipped editing and over messaging. Almost invariably the over message are at a total variance to the context of the original statements.

It used to be constrained by the cost of broadcast TV advertising in the US and the liability of the channels carrying such ads. But these days anyone with a dinky video editor can make them up and push them through facebook.

It isn’t something that our site has ever done, it used to be a favourite ploy of the paid-for-smearing site Whaleoil. And we have always had the capacity to make whatever we like from raw footage. Video editing is relatively simple, albeit tedious to do. But we made a conscious decision early on to not try to run material that didn’t have a clear and obvious personal opinion behind it – not to distort facts with implicit lying.

So, unlike Andrew Geddis, I simply can’t see any particular value of Parliamentary TV as a provider to content for attack clips. Especially if it appears there are none of safeguards and permission issues that every other provider of video has to be aware of. Ask any provider on TV, movies or documentaries about the legal constraints that they have and you will get an earful. In particular those related to the reuse of the images of people.

I simply can’t see any value in that use for the parliamentary feed, so if the National Party attempt to remove what safeguards there are on the feed, then I suspect that I and others will start playing around on avid or premiere pro with ‘humorous’ clips as a deterrence action. And we will explore the bottom end of the spectrum at  a personal level using the free and unencumbered footage from parliamentary TV. 

Interpersing images of pigs fucking and Gerry Brownlee speaking in the house. Or Simon Bridges talking up his contributions to raising bridges in Northland with the eventual result and the associated images of drooping failure. Or assisting Sarah Downie and Jamie-Lee Ross in their election campaigns by questioning their taste with the long soap opera glances across the house. These are easy to edit and message for me and any other juveniles. I’ll even help provide the online instructions about how to do it.

However I can’t see any particular benefit to our democracy in the MAD philosophy of simple deterrence of making such adverts descend immediately into the gutter. Given what Simon Bridges is advocating as free speech where the public pays for the feedstock and there are no constraints on its usage, we may as well just head there as fast as possible.

Or I could just start lobbying to kill the budget for parliamentary TV and remove the raw footage. I’m sure that despite the love that many politicians have for their own image, that they won’t mind. Otherwise I have some video that we cut…

But the simplest one would be to just retain some simple rules about usage. Which happen to look largely like the ones in place right now.

51 comments on “Parliamentary TV – should we shut it? ”

  1. ianmac 1

    Brownlee argues that censorship depends on who is the censor. So who is the arbiter on what is fair/not fair reportage? Who decided that the Speaker should decide what is in and what is out?

    Anyway in the current ordered take-down which hasn't happened, where to next?

    • gsays 1.1

      "Anyway in the current ordered take-down which hasn't happened, where to next?"

      At the risk of sounding like a single issue enthusiast….

      Email/phone or visit your Nat MP and let them know you aren't happy with their actions.

    • lprent 1.2

      Or just ask for Parliamentary TV to be taken down.

      Effectively what the Nats claim that they are after is open slather on the images of the MPs from it.

      That isn't something that is allowed anywhere through the film, tv, or any video industry. You always require the permission through a payment or a waiver for the focus people either via the person or via the institution in almost all of the material you publish.

      In effect the National party is asking for that protection to be removed retrospectively from individuals and for parliament to not have a say in giving permission to authorise is. Plus they want taxpayers to foot the bill for footage to smear their opponents. Why should we pay for it?

      We don't really need the footage to be shot in the first place. It is mostly a vanity thing for MPs. It isn't a free speech issue. Not having the footage doesn't stop the Nats from saying what they want. It just stops them from misappropriating images of other people without permission.

      Just remove the budget for parliamentary TV and the issue goes away.

      • weka 1.2.1

        Lynn, can you please pop into the back end when you get a moment? ta.

      • mpledger 1.2.2

        Who owns the copyright to this media? Copyright has pretty strict restrictions on what can be done with other peoples' published material. Have National paid for the use of the material? Have they got permission from the publisher?

        National appear to have absolutely no idea about the rules around copyright. The Eminem fiasco, the budget hacking fiasco, the hacking of the Labour members database hasn't seemed to made any impression about their responsibilities around other people's data and art.

    • Edit
      Fighting over what can be allowed to be used, and whether that is abused is another way of Parliament and our important political process being trivialised and our attention distracted from what the pollies are actually doing and saying about the essential, important, future things they need to inform themselves about and act on, plus the everyday mechanics of the polity, all of which we need to keep close to.

      So get rid of the bloody tv – we were in error if we thought it would be of benefit. Any benefits are outweighed by the disadvantages and the unintended consequences that have arisen. It accentuates the posing and posturing of the time-wasters and malign white-anters in the Chamber and puts people off the idea of democracy and discussion, to be drawn to a dictatorial but action-oriented government, which is a false, hopeful and simplistic alternative to replace democracy.

      TV converts the Chamber of Parliament, into either a fun-palace or an equivalent to a what could be a computer game, or tv sitcom satire, and ultimately, a Chamber of Horrors.

    • lprent 1.4

      Who decided that the Speaker should decide what is in and what is out?

      Actually, that is easy to answer. Parliament decided that. The speaker is made that by the governor general at the behest of the house of representatives. ie usually by the majority of the house.

      I’d have to dig through the legislation to find the current enabling act, and the other one about their role.

      The speaker is responsible for enforcing the rules made by parliament for parliamentarians. They have a number of committees that look after their own rules. The privileges committee is pretty much the ‘court’ that teh speaker is subject to.

      The Geddis link in the post defines the current rules that Trevor Mallard is enforcing. Specifically that the National Party never sought nor gained permission from the people in the video for the use they made of their image.

      Not one of my stronger areas, the nebulous NZ constitution.

      I’d say to just toss the parliamentary broadcasts. If the National MPs can’t be trusted to adhere to their own rules and aren’t prepared to wait for the privileges committee, then turn off parliamentary TV. No different to what you’d do to any other child demanding their TV.

      • xanthe 1.4.1

        Well the Speaker will have to do something now!

        either shut down broadcasts or

        the proper thing at this point would give each MP who has "defied" the ban a choice of apologize and remove the content or leave the chamber until they do.

        this could get interesting.

        • McFlock 1.4.1.1

          If all the tories get thrown out of the House, would that mean the government could pass whatever it wants without votes or extended debates against it?

          nice thought

      • Craig H 1.4.2

        Constitution Act 1986 has a section devoted to the election of the Speaker.

        • lprent 1.4.2.1

          Yeah, that one I did know.
          Doesn't say much about the role.

          12 Election of Speaker
          The House of Representatives shall, at its first meeting after any general election of its members, and immediately on its first meeting after any vacancy occurs in the office of Speaker, choose one of its members as its Speaker, and every such choice shall be effective on being confirmed by the Governor-General.

          13 Speaker to continue in office notwithstanding dissolution or expiration of Parliament
          A person who is in office as Speaker immediately before the dissolution or expiration of Parliament shall, notwithstanding that dissolution or expiration, continue in office until the close of polling day at the next general election unless that person sooner vacates office as Speaker.

    • Peter 1.5

      The Speaker might be like an umpire or referee in sport. He/she enforces the rules decided upon by others.

      Jerry Brownlee and Co. give Mallard some rules to enforce which Mallard duly does. Brownlee throws a tantrum.

      What's the issue? The issue isn't Parliamentary TV or Mallard or political propaganda. It's the childish behaviour of the sad, sour member for Ilam and the moronic mob he appeals to.

  2. ianmac 2

    Maybe drop the Tv all together but how would Bridges get exposure for his histrionics? How sad.

    Of course for many, TV Parliament is the only way one can get some idea of who each MP is. Our own MP for instance sits smirking behind the Minister. Creepy.

    • lprent 2.1

      … Parliament is the only way one can get some idea of who each MP is.

      Well there are the older ways. Radio broadcasts (online I think), Hansard (online), turn up at local meetings, go to party selection meetings to kick out list MPs and local MPs. For local MPs, go to the electorate office, and of course the old favourite – find someone else who is more accessible in another party and vote them in.

      The problem is that I really don’t think that parliamentary TV offers much more. The smirk really doesn’t tell you much except that they are a fool who can twist their face on demand. Since that is a required skill for all politicians and other sales people like 2nd hand car sellers – I don’t think it adds much.

    • Janet 2.2

      I can,t afford travel to watch parliament so I appreciate being able to see it on TV. I just wish I had time to watch it more. It certainly widens one view of the individuals we have elected to rule our country.

      • aj 2.2.1

        I agree Janet. We cannot rely on accurate reporting in any medium anymore. It strengthens democracy that voters can watch it in action. Body language and facial expression is an important addition to spoken word. Fake news is a real threat to democracy and political parties should not be able manipulate videos to their own ends. Nothing is going to prevent proxies from doing this but direct manipulation by political parties should be banned. I can't see much wrong with the current rules and it will be interesting to see how the speaker handles this.

  3. weka 3

    Times I've found it useful have been watching maiden speeches, especially later when I want to look back and see what an MP was like in the past.

    There have been some key moments where having the video was of public importance eg when Labour and Green women MPs were thrown out of the house for objecting to John Key's comments about the opposition supporting rapists. I wanted to see that directly without it being filtered through MSM.

    There's value in having video (or audio) because you can get nuance from listening that is missing from the Hansard transcript. I guess we could have audio instead, but I assume National would just abuse that.

    Also, fuck National if we lost this because they're anti-social and unethical and don't give a shit about fairness. While I can see the temptation of taking this away from them, I'd rather parliament stood up to them now and said enough. I had hoped the Speaker might do that but I see he wants to get rid of the standing order altogether.

  4. Nice touch from RNZ this morning…edited their interview with Brownlee down to a collection of "Um's" and "ers" for their soundbite advertisement.

    I like to think he choked on his full english brecky when he heard that nice bit of out of context editing…

  5. McFlock 5

    Well, it provides fodder for the msm as well – for better or worse. Maybe playing to the cameras isn't as good governance as making arguments of substance.

    Which could also be an argument against televising select committees.

    But there are other functions of government that can be televised without too much problem, to fill in the down-time of ptv. Conferences, ceremonies, youth parliaments, working groups, thinkpieces on governance and civics. A bit like cspan, being broader than just the oratory in the house.

  6. Climaction 6

    So we need publicly funded free to air broadcasting covering politics so that the public are informed, as long as it can’t be used or manipulated against us?

  7. Formerly Ross 7

    I don’t see a problem with filming Parliament. If filming were cancelled, splicing and dicing could still occur. MPs appear on tv now and again, and of course they are interviewed for radio. Their comments could be taken out of context. So, not filming Parliament probably won’t remove this issue although it would reduce the amount of material available to be used.

    • Dukeofurl 7.1

      Thats missing the main point – if politicians appear on on any other medium , then to re use that material requires the consent of the broadcaster and a release from the person appearing. I think passing on to third parties wouldnt be within the current system either

  8. Drowsy M. Kram 8

    I would prefer that live broadcasting of NZ parliamentary sessions be retained – ending these broadcasts would play into the National party's hands/plans, imho.

    "Below is a list of [90] countries that have made live parliament sessions available to the citizens via television, radio and web-streaming. (Some unlisted countries might have TV stations that broadcast its sessions but unable to verify because their websites are down.)"
    https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2018/01/23/how-many-countries-broadcast-their-parliamentary-assembly-sessions-live/

    The NZ link is at #91 on that list, but four listed countries apparently provide audio-only services, so we’re not quite at the end.

    "No matter the venue, what is critical is that parliaments see the broadcast of its work as a positive step in allowing a more open relationship between the institution and the citizens they represent."
    https://agora-parl.org/resources/aoe/broadcasting-parliament

  9. Sacha 9

    National's ethical vacuum will not be fixed by withdrawing some fodder.

  10. mac1 10

    Mr reading of this is an opposition who agreed one set of rules whilst in power and are now out of power, intolerant of that fact, and very short of ammunition to fire at the government.

    The rules do not suit them in opposition, as they want to continue their well-funded dirty tricks campaigns.

    A cartoon shows that the opposition had finally found an an issue to protest about. Not lethal arms, not global warming, not hate speech, but "Freedom for Attack Ads" .

    Says it all. An opposition bereft of everything but money.

  11. soddenleaf 11

    I think the first poster hit the nail on the head, Brownlee.

    You're going into the election, you can do away with all tv parliament censorship… …or lineup a dirty politics emotional attack line for yourself should you lose the election. So Bridges, Brownlee, argue FOR the censorship they now rail against.

    Brownlee wants to be known as something other than minister for earthquake recovery in chch. you know where the minister oversaw homeowners being cut and pasted out of hundreds if thousands alledgely, and not given current court decisions.

    So national lie the issue onto the legislation in govt, to argue for putting lies into others mouths, all to grab and move the agenda along, covering both arderns overseas trip and Changing the narrative around Brown Lee who oversaw the cutting and pasting of thousands of insurance holders…

    Any free press would want his resignation. freedom fighter for free speach… wtf. These people wate our money, fighting stuff they made up, to cover their own losses of money to us, and make themselves look like the good guys.

    Sack Brownlee

  12. mary_a 12

    I am deaf, so being able to assess events through the body/face language of the politicians on TV for me and many others with the same disability is very important. Parliamentary TV is vital to being able to keep up with that's going on in Parliament without any distortion by msm.

    Having the ability to face/lip read not only the MP up on their feet holding the floor, but also the "silent under the breath" comments made by other MPs sitting in the House, can be just as interesting and revealing, as the words of the MP speaking! Believe me I have picked up on a few WOW moments in this regard!! MPs need to be more vigilant when muttering to themselves or near MPs!

  13. Stuart Munro. 13

    I don't see any particular reason Mallard should accommodate the Gnat abuse. He should name them and stop their pay till they take the offending material down. Of course they can try to change the rules through the standing orders committee, but they won't get a majority to do so anytime soon. So let them obey the rules – it would be a refreshing change for everyone.

    • lprent 13.1

      I am pretty sure that the speaker doesn't have that power to cut their pay. Somehow I don't think that the crown would have delegated that power to the speaker.

      Otherwise our current Mr Speaker would have been pretty poor many times in the past.

      • Craig H 13.1.1

        The Speaker can name MPs which effectively suspends them without pay but it's a controversial measure.

        • Jum 13.1.1.1

          FFS Let's do this!

          Why on earth should taxpayers pay for dirty politics?

          Let’s remind all our mps who owns them.

      • Stuart Munro. 13.1.2

        There is a convention that speakers are not to be deliberately disrespected, as National are doing on this occasion, without so much as the ghost of a sniff of public interest. Trevor can give them a further notice period in the interests of not being unnecessarily punitive, but should not tolerate defiance for any great length of time, given who made this rule.

  14. Ken 14

    I think it's our right to see what goes on in Parliament – even if it is mostly boring AF.

    • lprent 14.1

      Question is if it is right for National to take material provided for the purpose you are describing and without paying or getting permission to do so, to commit theft by using it for a completely different purpose? Especially when National and the two shadow ministers concerned were directly responsible for putting in the current rules to prevent exactly this. The hypocrisy is extreme.

      Incidentally I'm sure that eminem and coldplay would have things to say about National's towards intellectual thievery and copyright fraud. I can’t see a copyright notice around, which means by default there is a copyright on the material.

      Personally I don’t see much value in the TV broadcasts. There have been a few valid reasons listed above. Maybe enough to justify the millions (probably tens) of dollars required to fund this each year.

      • Ken 14.1.1

        Of course the Nats have no right to edit the footage to suit their dastardly agenda, but we should all have the right to watch what goes on in our parliament if we wish to do so.

  15. Jum 15

    I want to watch parliament – small p because nats are wankers but seem to control the media.

    If they show their lies on their own website, whatever… If they show their manufactured lies on any other site, or through mainstream media, there should be instant prosecution in the interests of fair and objective media. If Labour wants to take the moral highground, no copying.

    Parliament is important to me to show the faces and the body language of the people that make our laws or try to prevent them working on our behalf. It keeps me informed of current bills, who is talking against them. I hope Labour re-attached the impact statements to the bills – nats ‘disappeared’ them between 2008 and 2017 so nobody knew the damage they were doing. I particularly like laughing at the antics of judith collins; she’s such a jerk telling our youth their ‘little’ protest wouldn’t matter. I hope somebody advertises that near and wide. It was on the programme Sunday. What were the protest numbers again? HUGE and GENUINE. Unlike little judith collins.

  16. Radio NZ programme "The House" lays out the issues clearly:

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/the-house/audio/2018715335/irony-and-advertising-the-parliament-video-ban

    The current kerfuffle is over the rules about using the official TV footage of Parliament (Standing Orders Appendix D, part B 1 & 2). In full here is the section: […]

    The relevant bits are B1:2.1, B1:3 and B2.

    In short, you can't use Parliament TV (PTV) footage of MPs in advertising without their permission. Also, you can't edit it so that it's not fair and accurate. Either is potentially a contempt of Parliament (which is very serious).

    See also: https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/the-house/audio/2018715520/punishing-contempt-what-could-happen-to-simon-bridges

    Technically, Parliament has the power to imprison Bridges for contempt. Unfortunately, the actual punishment will be much milder

  17. New view 17

    The amusing thing to me is that most of you here can’t see any value in the REAL stupidity of Parliamentary discussion but are happy to use any news article written by whatever self proclaimed expert from countless sources that may or may not be correct to backup your points of view on any subject. The comments here are chocked with backup articles which often are taken for fact when at best are the result of some study or article that people are happy to adopt when a few years down the track the opposite point of view is in fashion. I don’t watch parliament because it’s pathetic but it is real. I-don’t click on too many backup articles here because for everyone you look at there will be one with an opposing view. Who knows what is correct but we’ll use what we think proves our point. I don’t imagine I have many like minded spirits here but I don’t comment here to win a popularity poll. I don’t mean to belittle any commenters here it’s just an observation and my opinion.

  18. peterlepaysan 18

    It is long overdue that Bridges grew up, and Brownlee.

    Both know that it was National that set rules about use of parliamentary television.

    Apparently it gives them right to flout them: a la Brownlee and airport security doors.

    The arrogant, mindless self entitlement is breath taking.

  19. peterlepaysan 19

    Parliamentary television should we shut it?

    Why not?

    Who watches it?

    Who is deprived?

  20. peterlepaysan 20

    Yes, OK. I can easily agree that parliamentary TV should stay.

    I just wish politicians stop trying to manipulate it. WE, the electorate, pay for it and own it. Politicians can keep their grubby paws off my/ our property.

    Politicians are our servants and are required to respect our ownership rights.

    Politicians only have the rights we give them, not the ones they want/steal.

    • Yeah, yeah. All true. So wotcha gonna do to get better outcomes than the present? Looking at them one thinks that they have a nerve to criticise teachers for not doing better with the mixed bag of children they get before them. These are adults half of which would be hanging round the principals door if they were at school. Old-time teachers would feel an itch in their hands to reach for the cane looking at these regular recalcitrants in Parliament.

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