By FRANCESCA MOLD
MPs are considering setting up their own network of cameras in Parliament to beam debates live to the public on the internet.
Parliament's standing orders committee discussed the proposal yesterday and is expected to receive a report from the Clerk of the House next month outlining costs.
Act leader Richard Prebble supported the move to replace the cameras of Television New Zealand and TV3 with a system controlled by Parliament.
He said rules governing coverage of Parliament were often flouted by the media. "TV channels put on an incident saying this is what happened, and they made it up."
Mr Prebble said that if incidents occurred in the House when TV cameras were absent, the networks were forced to use a montage of pictures from previous occasions to construct their stories.
He pointed to a TV3 story in August in which library footage of former National leader Jenny Shipley had been used after the channel missed an allegation she made about "digging up dirt".
Mr Prebble conceded the rules were probably too conservative but said the issue needed to be dealt with.
"We're a public place and I'm in favour of allowing that [filming] to happen, but I don't like having fiction put out there."
Mr Prebble said either MPs should accept they were "on show" and there should be no limitation on what could be filmed in the House, or Parliament had a duty to film all proceedings and make the footage available to anyone who wanted to download and rebroadcast it.
Speaker Jonathan Hunt said Parliament should come up to date with the 21st century. If a camera system was set up it would be a public service that would create footage which could be used by others as long as they met the costs.
Mr Prebble said cameras could be installed below the public galleries and programmed by computer to focus automatically on the MP speaking.
He joked this would stop shots from the gallery which clearly showed MPs' bald spots.
Mr Hunt said he had received two letters from people who had been watching question time on television, asking him to speak to two female MPs who needed to re-dye the roots of their hair.
He said he had not had the courage to act on their request.
By FRANCESCA MOLD
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