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1975: First live broadcast of Parliament

AUDIO : First live exchanges in the Commons aired

The first live transmission from the House of Commons has been broadcast by BBC Radio and commercial stations.

Commentary was provided by BBC political editor David Holmes and Edmund Boyle, from Independent Radio News, who shared a cramped, sound-proofed box inside the chamber.

Secretary of State for Industry Tony Benn was the first minister to be questioned in Parliament live on air, starting a debate which some listeners said was difficult to follow on radio.

But the BBC and IRN said it was pleased with the first daily Question Time broadcast of this four-week experiment.


"Only the diehards would suggest that these would be changes for the worst"

Peter Hardiman Scott

Mr Holmes and Mr Boyle - who both said they hoped their uncomfortable booth would be upgraded if the trial became permanent - attempted to provide background details of the proceedings.

But they admitted this was sometimes difficult with the speed of the debates and Commons' traditions like referring to other MPs as "honourable gentleman", rather than their name.

BBC boss Peter Hardiman Scott said it would be arrogant to expect MPs to alter their procedure for the sake of the broadcast, but said he would not be surprised if subtle changes were made in time.

"One might get shorter speeches, or speeches rather to the point - only the diehards would suggest that these would be changes for the worst," he said.

In Context
The idea of broadcasting the proceedings of Parliament was first suggested by the BBC in the 1920s, but permission was refused.

Permanent radio coverage was eventually granted in 1978 after the 1975 dry-run.

In November 1984, cameras were installed in the Lords for an experimental period and have remained ever since.

Permission for television broadcasts of Commons' proceedings was finally granted in 1990 after an 18-month trial.


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