HC Deb 23 November 1990 vol 181 cc229-30W
Mr. Ron Davies

To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will list the statutory provisions that apply to the broadcasting of the proceedings of Parliament.

Mr. MacGregor

The broadcasting of the House's proceedings is carried out under the authority of the resolutions of the House of 26 July 1977 (sound broadcasting) and 19 July 1990 (televising). In the latter case, a further resolution will be required to provide authority for the continued televising of the House's proceedings after 1 October 1991 on the basis of permanent arrangements to be recommended to the House in due course by the Select Committee on Broadcasting.

The only statutory provisions which directly relate to the broadcasting of the House's proceedings are those contained in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Section 165(4)(b) of the Act provides that any sound recording, film, live broadcast or live cable programme of the proceedings of either House is protected by copyright. Section 167 states that the functions of the House of Commons as owner of copyright are to be performed by Mr. Speaker. In exercise of these powers in relation to the broadcasting of proceedings, Mr. Speaker has granted a licence to House of Commons Broadcasting Unit Ltd., a company formed by the BBC and independent television, for the purposes of producing and distributing the signal.

As for the inclusion within programmes of extracts from, or live transmissions of, parliamentary proceedings, the broadcasters are, of course, subject to the same legal obligations and standards in such areas as political balance as apply under the various Broadcasting Acts to all their other activities. Responsibility for the operation and administration of the relevant legislation lies, in the first instance, with my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary.

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