I like the plans announced by the Speaker to ensure the live broadcast of all Parliamentary sittings, and to eventually extend this to Committee hearings too. The only availability at the moment is broadcast of question time, which is better than nothing but far from enough.
My preferred model would be something like http://www.parliamentlive.tv/ - live unmediated coverage of all the House's activities. This should also be archived so people can go back and watch a specific debate.
I do, however, think there are two problems. One relates to the proposed changes and the other relates to the rules.
First, it is my view that the rules which control broadcasting of the House in session are absurdly restrictive. Broadcasters should be able to show whatever happens in the House without any exception. I have no doubt many of my friends who are MPs would disagree, but tough. If someone yawns, or if there is a fight, or someone falls asleep, and the media are twits enough to think that is news, then they should be welcome to broadcast those images.
If Parliamentarians want to protect the public dignity of Parliament, they should ensure they behave in a dignified manner - not control what the public sees. If Parliamentarians are concerned about the stupid level of much news broadcasting in New Zealand, then they have a state owned broadcaster which they are welcome to de-commercialise, fund properly and govern such that it produces quality news, and the resulting competition might drive news standards up across the media (faint, but viable, hope).
The second problem is the one about editorial judgement: a journo is forming a story, trying to get a scoop or whatever, and wants footage to provide that, but has to accept whatever the parliamentary television people provide. My personal view is that the galleries are almost never busy enough to mean that there is no space for the private networks, and so it does no harm to have their cameras as well as the proposed parliamentary ones. Margaret suggested this morning on National Radio that there may be a trial with both systems running concurrently, and I would not be surprised if that results in a decision to make the trial permanent.
Alternatively, if the decision to have only this new service doing the filming, it should be structured in such a way that the networks can get what they need. If the rules were loosened too this would become much easier. TV3 and TVNZ could jointly run the service and thus have camera people with good news sense; you could have a good relationship between TV journos and the parliamentary filmers to ensure things were covered, and so on.
It's all a bit of a storm in a teacup in some ways but should be sorted out. I want better access to broadcasts of Parliament. I also want the rules looser, and continued access to useful footage for the networks. It shouldn't be too much to ask.
Margaret has a good head on her shoulders and should be able to sort this out. I vote for "watch this space".