TV3 has laid down the gauntlet to Speaker Margaret Wilson by screening shots of Cabinet minister David Benson-Pope asleep in Parliament yesterday - a clear breach of broadcasting rules.

TVNZ and TV3 are battling a plan to bar cameras from the debating chamber once a tax-funded television system is installed this year.

After a meeting yesterday between the two networks and Ms Wilson, TV3 last night screened Mr Benson-Pope asleep and openly acknowledged it breached the rules.

3 News presenter Hillary Barry said Mr Benson-Pope was "asleep for so long" that the network felt the public should know. "If Parliament has its way, such reporting might not happen," she said.

Last week the Speaker's Office announced a $6.2 million plan to provide free coverage of all sessions to TV networks. It would cost another $3.2 million a year to run.

Officials are understood to want the TV networks' cameras to go to avoid cluttering the public galleries.

TVNZ political editor Mark Sainsbury said that after the meeting he remained concerned that editorial independence was under threat.

But he said Ms Wilson had suggested the broadcasters be involved in sorting out the new system. A transition period was also suggested whereby both systems operated in parallel.

TV3 News chief Mark Jennings said broadcasters overseas had found systems such as the one the Government is proposing unsatisfactory.

Ms Wilson's office refused to talk about the meeting.

The Commonwealth Press Union media freedom committee has called an emergency meeting for tomorrow to discuss what action to take.

"There's very strong strictures on what you can do at the moment anyway. You are only allowed to photograph the person who has the speaker's call. You aren't allowed to photograph any sort of disturbance in the chamber."

The TV3 item did not mention Mr Benson-Pope had returned on Tuesday from Europe.

Mr Benson-Pope said he was "not proud" of falling asleep and was embarrassed and apologetic.

He was aware of the cameras row but said it was a separate issue. He said he would not be taking the broadcast up with the Speaker.

But he said the decision to fund a new system was a good one and reflected what happened overseas.