Point of Order, Speaker Sir!

By Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)
12 July 2012 18:14 IST

New Speaker of Goa Assembly Rajendra Arlekar has taken a new decision about live TV coverage of the Assembly session as well as reporting by the journalists, especially those dealing with photography and videography. He has disallowed any video journalist to sit in the Press Gallery to shoot the proceedings while photo journalists, after objections, are allowed to cover only the Question Hour. The video coverage is provided from the live feed in the Press Room while the photographs would be supplied by the Directorate of Information and Publicity. The reason? The Honourable Speaker doesn’t want to see so many cameras in the gallery.

In reality, the Honourable Speaker has mixed up the issue of Live TV coverage with journalistic reporting of the Assembly. The live coverage started on 18 August 2008, when Pratapsing Rane was the Speaker, with Prudent TV taking initiative in this regard. It helped the whole state to understand and analyse the performance of their elected representatives in the House. It obviously also helped the BJP tremendously as the opposition while hampered the ruling Congress ministers when they did not perform. Now; the BJP is in power and the Congress in the opposition!

The Legislative Secretariat has a CCTV set up of web-cam type low quality cameras and the video mixer to shoot the proceedings and show it live within the Assembly complex. But since it does not provide required quality resolution, then speaker Rane had allowed the TV channels to use their cameras to cover the Assembly live. But the TV channels prefer direct control by the Legislative Secretariat over the cameras since any mistake of showing it live against speaker’s directive may result into disobedience. It would be thus wise on the part of Mr Arlekar to upgrade the existing shooting system and take total control of the ‘live’ coverage.

However, the live coverage cannot be mixed up with journalistic reporting, either by the print or the electronic media. Showing Assembly live is not journalism; but reporting Assembly proceedings is journalism.  The whole country allows all the journalists in the Assembly hall with a special gallery designated for them. Goa has also thus allowed the reporters and photo journalists from first day of the Assembly in 1963. With the changing technological world, journalists belonging to the electronic media – Radio, TV and Internet, are also added to it.

Journalism is not mere reporting. It is also an art of creativity, based on facts and evidence. Each journalist provides a creative angle to the proceedings and conveys a message to the reader or the viewer in a constructive manner. The photo journalist or the video journalist adds a flavor to the news, by capturing it in their own creative manner. If any journalist does it negatively, there are enough provisions to punish such journalism. Providing monotonous footage of the video cameras of the Assembly or photos captured by the Directorate of Information and Publicity cannot be a viable alternative to this creative work. It would simply kill this creativity and freedom of the journalists to provide the news in a journalistic manner.

Obviously, it also means curtailing freedom of the press and depriving the people from getting the news with a creative and journalistic flavor. The restraint imposed by the Speaker thus becomes an injustice to the freedom journalists enjoy in a free democratic country. If this restraint is allowed, the next step obviously could be to also restrain print media reporters from sitting in the Press Gallery. They could very well be told to view the Assembly televisions or listen to the speakers installed in the Press Room of the Assembly. Of course it may not happen, but the possibility cannot be denied if this is the ‘mindset’ of the Honourable Speaker.

According to the Honourable Speaker, he wants to follow the precedent set by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, where the TV feed is taken from the Doordarshan by all other channels. In fact it is an adjustment made since accommodating hundreds of TV channels becomes difficult there. Goa, a small state, need not follow the Parliament but take full advantage of its smallness. The local TV channels have also not taken advantage of its freedom in the last four years.  Similarly, the photo journalists have acted in a responsible manner for over 50 years. Then why do we need to follow the Parliament, which has constraints of its own, but Goa doesn’t have?

Why this mentality of following others, even when they are wrong or constrained? In fact Goa should be proud of allowing such a live TV coverage that has set up a pioneering example for the whole country. Even allowing MLAs to use their mobile phones in the House is equally a bold decision that reflects the mindset of freedom. Secondly, Goa is not the first just in showing Assembly live. We are the first one to have the Common Civil Code. We were the first one to have Anti Tobacco Act, Right to Information Act and even the Children’s Act. The Parliament needs to follow Goa in such cases; not that Goa needs to follow the Parliament!

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Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)

Sandesh Prabhudesai is the Editor of goanews.com. He has been earlier the Editor of Sunaparant (Konkani daily) and Editor-in-Chief of Pruden (TV channel). His collection of selective editorials of Sunaparant has been published as 'Goff'. He writes brief thoughts as EdiThought for goanews.com, but not on regular basis.

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Previous Comments

the article is directionless, i have been reading articles of this site for a long time and this one has to one of the worst of all...from freedom of press to common civil code...and FYI d photojournalists had asked only for question hour....2day der r 4-5 local media channels ..in d coming years it will become 8-9 den wer will u keep all dese cameras?.......finally it must b understood dat business of d house is more important dan live coverage

- amogh, goa | 14 th July 2012 15:28

 

BJP afraid ? or do anyone have allergy with Media?

- Sanjay Borkar, Ponda Goa | 14 th July 2012 13:00

 

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