Parliament could soon have its own radio station, and if budget allows, a TV station as well.
Most parliaments globally have their own TV stations. Some also have radio stations. Most have strong web presences, through websites, and social media platforms.
By having their own media outlet, the gap between parliamentarians and citizens is reduced. Citizens can be more informed of what their representatives are up to, and if their issues are being raised and deliberated.
While BBS TV and radio already live broadcast parliamentary sessions, there is a conception among parliamentarians that they do not receive enough airtime beyond the session. This is true. The media may not find everything that a parliamentarian wants aired to be newsworthy.
By having their own radio or TV station, parliamentarians will get much more airtime.
We agree that Parliament must have its own radio or TV station.
We expect that besides only airing live Parliament sessions, plenaries and committee meetings will also be live broadcast to enhance transparency. We understand that not all such meetings can be live broadcast. Some meetings will require confidentiality, especially when the issue concerns security.
However, in matters beyond, it is hoped that parliamentarians do not resort to the excuse of “sensitive information” to keep microphones and cameras switched off. If this argument is resorted to to keep out public, then there would be no use in needlessly investing in this venture.
The radio and TV stations should not become a mouthpiece, airing only selective information. Blanket and balanced coverage must be provided.
This raises the question of who will run the radio and TV stations. In most countries, a public broadcaster is selected. In a few, private companies undertake the operation. One of the issues that could determine this answer is costs. We already have a public broadcaster and the goal is also to reach the unreached, which will be an expensive endeavour. This will require careful thought and planning to decide whether a public or private company will best suit the goals of Parliament.
The media will be affected in terms of both news and advertisements. But just because parliamentarians will have their own platform, they must still remain accessible to the mainstream media.
The media will also be compelled to remain relevant by going beyond simply regurgitating information from parliamentarians and go beyond “he said, she said” news pieces by verifying claims through research and providing analysis.
A TV and radio station must also not mean that the web presence be neglected. Almost everyone today has a smartphone and uses a social media platform, or at least SMS. Parliament must also look to exploit these media, as it has done with its virtual zomdus, to close the gap between Parliament and the citizens.