cordance with guidelines set by the two Houses. In terms of what film im- ages are aired, each television and radio network is able to make its own de- cision about what, if any, parliamentary material to use. These decisions are not required to be revealed to the Parliament, and it is presumed they are based on programming considerations. Typically, the networks use excerpts on their news and current affairs programs. Since 2000, the Parliament has had formal agreements with two cable networks to provide them with feeds of all proceedings, which they can transmit on dedicated parliamentary television channels. One network TransAct, has three channels on which it shows proceedings of the Senate, the House of Representatives and parliamentary committees. The other net- work, SkyNews, has a dedicated channel, Sky Parliament, on which it can chose to show parliamentary audio visual material at any time, but usually does so only during parliamentary sittings. In addition, parliamentary staff produce a television program called ‘About the House’ which focuses on the work of the House of Representa- tives and its committees; this program is telecast on SkyNews Australia nine times a year and will soon be available as a downloadable file from the Par- liament’s website. The newest media development has been that since June 2006, the ABC has provided MP3 downloads, or podcasts, of Question Times from each chamber, and their popularity appears to be growing. 52
Const. Parl. Inf. 56 (2006), 192 Outlook for the relationship Arguably, in Australia’s Parliament House there are generous physical ac- cess arrangements for media personnel within the building, as well as gen- erous access to audio visual material from the official feeds of all available parliamentary proceedings, and generous opportunities for interviews with all members of parliament. Nevertheless, claims frequently come from the press gallery that their access to Senators, Members and proceedings is in- adequate. Sometimes this leads to requests for special access arrange- ments, which are often agreed to. It is also the case that the guidelines and other rules have been responsive to requests for more liberal access and to technological advances, which have supported more extensive access for the media. Successful parliamentary relations with the media are dependent upon sound ongoing communication between the Parliament and the press gallery. The existence of the President of the Press Gallery, provides a valu- able linkage with the Presiding Officers so that there can be dialogue when specific issues arise, or when seeking generally to balance the competing in- terests in the media access policy and its administration. A measure of the relative strength of parliamentary relations with the media is the response to the query, what is the extent to which the media access policy and its ad- ministration are themselves the subject of media reports? It is to be hoped that the answer to this query is ‘infrequently’.
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