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The UK’s lower chamber, the House of Commons has marked 30 years of being broadcast on television by announcing further broadcast access to parliamentary proceedings.

The 21st November 2019 marked thirty years since the proceedings of the House of Commons were first broadcast to the public.

Of the 30 years of broadcast coverage there is little doubt that the past year has been the most high-profile. Over this period the Broadcasting Unit and Parliament’s sound and vision contractor have been delivering live coverage of every contribution on the floor of the House and in committee to media organisations and on Parliament’s own video service, parliamentlive.tv.

During a time of national and world-wide interest in the House of Commons, the number of viewers engaging with the coverage provided by the House has reached unprecedented numbers.

> Between June 2017 and July 2019, the number of average daily viewers tuning in to Parliamentlive.tv increased by 237%.
> On Tuesday 3 September 2019 435,000 viewers watched the parliamentlive.tv live stream as Members debated an emergency motion to allow for debate on the EU (Withdrawal) (No 6) Bill

Over the coming months a series of changes will be made to improve access to broadcast coverage for Members, media and the public. These include a new access and distribution model for high quality video coverage of all proceedings via internet protocol (IP) opening up the coverage to a wider range of media including local and regional media.

A new broadcasting centre to be located in the refurbished Canon Row building, and the establishment of a new digital archive following the digitisation of all broadcast coverage dating back to 1989 will be created. British Sign Language for all Prime Minister’s question time sessions will also be introduced.

Commenting on the 30th anniversary, the head of the Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit, John Angeli said; “Having started as a journalist in local radio at Westminster in 1988 I have seen how public access to Parliamentary proceedings has transitioned over thirty years through radio, television and online. There is little doubt that digital is proving to be the most effective way of increasing public access to the totality of proceedings in Parliament.

“As chance would have it we share our 30th anniversary with Tim Berners Lee’s first successful communication using the internet in November 1989 and it is through digitisation of the broadcasting infrastructure that we have seen the most progress over recent years.

“This has included a doubling in the number of committees requested by media organisations and, with the introduction of video download, a major increase in use of Parliamentary video by Members and media alike. Our team has also been hugely encouraged to see national and local newspaper websites in particular, streaming live coverage of debates and posting video clips.

“We now look forward to introducing even more innovative solutions to improve access to both web and broadcast quality coverage of both Houses over the coming 18 months.”