“ BBC Parliament is a British television channel from the BBC. It broadcasts live and recorded coverage of the British House of Commons and House of Lords, Select Committees, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, and occasionally from the General Synod of the Church of England. The Channel also broadcasts reports from the European Parliament. „
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I won't lie, this channel is not for everyone and I know people view politics as 'boring' though the general election has peaked some interest, so there is a limited target audience for this channel. I do enjoy politics so this channel is viewed regularly in my household (even if just by me). It is viewable through Sky (channel 504), freeview and through BBC iPlayer and the Democracy Live website has footage also.
BBC Parliament shows a lot of footage of the goings on around the House of Commons and House of Lords, as well as footage from Holyrood, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Irish Assembly. It also includes other recorded political footage. A lot of what is shown is repeated some time later in the day/week. You can find out the programme for the House of Commons by going to the Democracy Live website, if there are particular areas of interest to you.
My personal highlights of BBC Parliament are the Prime Ministers Questions (every Wednesdays, seemingly at 3pm) in which the current Prime Minister (David Cameron) answers questions from other members of parliament. There is also going to be an additionally monthly Deputy Prime Ministers Questions from Nick Clegg starting this month (June).
The live footage of the House of Commons allows you to watch MP's (majorly back benchers) asking questions and debating (you might be able to catch your own MP). This is true of the regional programmes as well.
BBC Parliament is intended to allow greater access to politics and the programming allows the viewers to gain a deeper understanding of what is going on in Parliament, and also a closer look at who is representing them. It allows you to see MP's and party leaders in action as opposed to when they are campaigning for votes. This could be quite crucial when it comes to voting time again (however I hope that doesn't come too soon - just my political opinion).
I would only recommend this channel if you do have an interest in politics. As fun as I think it is to watch grown people shout at each other like children, there is a serious aspect to it as well. If you are interested in politics and want to know more about the parties and their members you may find this quite interesting.
In my opinion, from the material they are given and the limited audience they are catering too, BBC Parliament is quite good quality. Perhaps more shows catered to those with a limited knowledge on politics would be beneficial for those new to politics to allow more people to get in to it. Overall a good channel for those that enjoy it. I enjoy having it on in the background as I carry on with other tasks.
For me, I only really watch BBC Parliament for when it delves into the archives, and shows us complete Election Night coverage of previous General Elections. These are shown roughly every six months, sometimes to the exact date, as a means of celebrating it's anniversary. Such as the 30 year anniversary coverage of the 1979 election, when Thatcher's Conservative Government reign begins. These are usually shown on Bank holidays, and it's a matter of keeping your eyes peeled. The election coverage can be excellent and very, very extensive, depending on how recent it is, showing both the results and the aftermath (usually titled "The Morning After"). These programmes can start 9am in the morning and not finish until 11pm! However, if you go back to 1959, only 4 hours of footage were kept. Well, let's just say it's a guilty pleasure for me!
It can be a bit of a task, trying to keep note of the next election coverage, because they aren't announced months in advance, so they truly are hidden gems for me, because they can sometimes pop up unpredictably, and annoying for some people, as they are usually on working days/nights.
The remaining programmes, don't hold a great deal of interest for me, but I sometimes have it on in the background, sometimes viewing "Prime Minister's Questions" in the House of Commons, or it may be hailing from the Scottish or Northern Ireland Parliament, or the Welsh Assembly. I have some knowledge of lesser-known MP's and other politicians, so it's nice to see how they come across, when you've read about them somewhere.
It's a very extensive look-in into the world of politics, but it's hard to picture more than a handful of people to find this to be essential viewing. It's probably great for the MP who slept-in or had a lazy day, to still manage to keep up-to-date with procedures, Bills, policies, etc. However, not of great use to everybody else, unless you're a real hardenend political armchair junkie.
However, it still deserves an extra star for the excellent, historic election coverage, so 4 stars!
BBC Parliament is available as a free to air digital channels, available on most platforms such as Sky, Freeview and also via the Internet. It is funded by the BBC and provides near 24 hours coverage of politics and Parliament.
The channel is not designed to appeal to the majority of the public, in the same way that Hansard (the written record of Parliament) is not designed to be a best-seller. It is one of those services which is there to make politics accessible and it means that it is available to those that want to see it.
Democracy is inevitably aided by any mechanism which allows any member of the public to watch their elected representatives speak in the chamber of the House of Commons, so in principle this is public service broadcasting at its best.
The channel, which might be better described as BBC Politics rather than BBC Parliament, has live coverage from the House of Commons, but also shows the House of Lords, select committee hearings, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Scottish Parliament.
The channel in addition has programmes which cover the day's political news, European coverage and also some coverage of US politics. It doesn't in the main have much coverage such as Newsnight on BBC 2 would offer, ie, a magazine type of television programme.
Currently, every Bank Holiday the channel shows all-day repeats of previous General Elections. The audience figures for this show a surprisingly large niche following for watching re-runs of past elections!
There are some problems, the Internet site is quite limited, although it does stream the channel for those who want to watch it. The station controller however did say on a BBC blog that they aimed to be able to put more past programmes onto the web-site.
The coverage on the channel is also sometimes very dry and inaccessible to those who don't normally follow politics. For example, there is no explanation of what is happening, so a viewer might become confused as to what is happening when say the House of Common coverage stops when MPs go to vote or the viewer may not understand the implications of what the voting means.
It would also be advantageous, although possibly expensive, to create an archive of coverage from the various Parliaments and chambers, so that they can be made available like Hansard is available on the Houses of Parliament site.
Another possibility for expanding the channel is to cover more news from local councils, although if they were to try and satsify everyone they might need to set up BBC Parliament 2!
BBC Parliament therefore in summary is an essential piece of public service broadcasting.
Further to the purchase of my freeview digital box for my analogue TV another BBC channel. BBC PARLIAMENT a specialist channel by the beeb formally called the Parliamentary channel to quote the channels editor BBC Parliament is the channel dedicated to detailed coverage of Parliament & Politics. Some of the information that follows is from the website by Wikipedia. Launched 23.September.1998 and owned by the BBC, it has a low audience rating of almost zero (May 2006).
Terrestrial - Freeview channel 81.
Satellite - Sky Digital channel 504.
Cable - NTL channel 128/13.
- Telewest channel 612.
- Telewest channel 05 (analogue).
Also shown on ABC News Radio (Australian parliamentary channel). C - SPAN (US). C PAC (Canadian). The Knesset channel (Israel).
The channel is represented as part of the BBC on there website at www.bbc.co.uk, the pages are quite interesting and give advise on listings for future broadcasts: showings from 6.00 am - 4.30 am the next day. Also news on yesterdays broadcasts. There are icons for clicking which open into pages on 1. Bill Tracker - keep pace with legislation - key votes of the week. 2. Westminster digest - BBC roundup of proceedings of the days stories in Westminster. 3. Virtual Tour - Commons, Lords, Parliament, Pictures.
From the BBC website:
The screen on Digital Terrestrial TV (DTDTV) is broadcast as a quarter screen with text to the left. WHY? DTDTV has the ability to squeeze a number of services into the frequency space that would have been occupied by just one analogue channel. The more pictures the lower the quality of each picture. It is felt to be more efficient use of space to display BBC Parliament within a text format, with the picture a quarter screen, thus enabling the broadcast of other services. This is only possible because the majority of camera shots are one person talking. Digital Satellite TV systems have a far greater capacity and more allowable frequency space therefore more room for full picture broadcasts. This might be a preferred option for people with large screens who like large pictures. I quite like the idea of text. My freeview package allows for screen expansion with a button click, however you loose the text (this is useful for short watching periods - between review writing for example).
To summarize Peter Knowles the channels editor:
BBC Parliament is a highly specialised channel, which is unlikely to be watched by most people unless they are especially interested in national level politics. The biggest user's of this channel are likely to be "political professionals" (i.e. lobbyists, party workers and corporate monitors), academics, and the media itself.
I believe it is healthy that in a "civilized" "democratic" country like ours that citizens should have easy access like this to the centre of the electoral, democratic, and governmental processes. See where your taxes go!
Its nice to have the option, you pay for this service via your TV licence. I think it should stay. Margaret Thatcher was against TV broadcasts live from the commons (I may have got that wrong) when they started in the 1980s. With the development of citizenship in our country and in our educational system (The Citizenship module for lower secondary school students). I think more and more regular TV viewers will check this station out when they get time. Today (Sunday 13:00 hrs) I tuned in to a debate taking place outside the Commons and lords on Russian Democracy, which included comments from US, commentators.
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This really most be the biggest waste of licence payers money - can none cable subscribers actually get this channel? If you want to see major changes in british law being listiened to by 3 men and a dog then tune in here! The only good thing that it does is to show you just how hard working your elective representatives in parliament - i dont think. This really is snooze time tv if you cant sleep turn this on you'll be asleep in seconds. Instead of just showing debates why not have interviews with mps etc on it.
BBC Parliament might sound very dull to many people but it is actually very important. It means that we can actually listen and watch our elected representatives and see that they are doing what we elected them to do. You would soon notice if your MP was asleep, for example! If he didn't stand up for what your city or constituency wanted you would be able to see that if you watched a particular debate. Some issues are not important on a national scale and don't make it into the news but if your MP was speaking in a debate on something that affected you and your area, you would want to make sure he/she put your views across. BBC Parliament gives you the chance to actually do this. The secrecy surrounding the House of Commons has gone. This will also benefit our nation as a whole. After all which MP wants to be seen on TV nodding off, or not paying attention, when his constituents can see him? You pay their wages at the House of Commons, so watch when you can and make sure they earn them!
BBC Parliament is a new channel available to digial viewers, yet funded by all of us through the license-fee. It provides coverage of the all speeches and hearings in the Houses of Parliament, House of Commons etc... It's quite handy if you want to hear parliament-type news first hand, as most broadcasts are live. Examples being new changes to the law, Prime Minister's Question Time etc... The down side is that there is ONLY sound on BBC Parliament, it's audio only and probably surives on a fiver-a-year budget like Channel 5. Can't say I've ever watched it much myself. Still.... a very handy and useful channel to have if you like this sort of thing.
I like to watch Parliament, just to see how the decision making process is carried out. It can be boring and sometimes the party political sniping quite off putting. However you can see debates which are well constructed and intereting. This kind of television isn't for everyone, but I think it it useful for students and school pupils to know the mechanisms, ehich govern the country. Also if people watched more often then they would have a more informed choice of who to vote for and why. Not just I vote for such and such just becsuse my father did etc. All in all, not a million thrills, but it is very informative.
Here they are. The people running our country. making decisions about our economy, our education system, health service, social security etc etc. No wonder this country is in such a piss poor state! Look at them! Half of them are asleep, the other half look like they view the world through the bottom of a sherry bottle! The importance of the debates on this channel cannot be expressed with regards to article 28, sex offenders, the Stephen Lawrence case, Bosnia and so on. This is our society being measured and changed before our very eyes. God help us! There is some entertainment value here though, me and a few friends put bets on who will fall asleep first and keep flicking back to this channel and see who has won. The whole principle of this channel is excellent. The execution of it is apalling. Could you imagine a highlights program in the evening like football results? Sorry, absolute waste of time and money.
Awww, I felt so sorry for BBC Parliament, what with all the stick it's received so far, I thought it was only fair that I wrote in its defense. The channel offers something you can't find elsewhere on TV - almost continuous coverage of the most important debates happening in the Lords, Commons and select committees. I can understand how dull this concept must be to those with no interest in the subject, but it is virtually the only way, for example, constituents may be able to follow their local MP from their own front room, or for politics students like myself to get an idea of what goes on in the unedited world of Parliament. Besides, we have round-the-clock coverage of such pointless sports as cricket, and surely being able to keep an eye on our politicians is slightly more important to the democracy of the nation? BBC Parliament's coverage is accompanied by notes along the bottom of the screen to identify which member is speaking and the area in which they represent, along with key points about the history of that particular debate. It can also make really rather amusing viewing as we see pretenious (and often star-struck) MPs fall flat on their faces, and the rare occasion of actually seeing a member of the Lords awake is surely worthy of a drinking game. Great fun.
Having sky digital and been into political issues I watch this channel a few times a week. Programming ranges from the House of Commons (where some lively debates and some very good arguments take place.) to the select committees. If you have ever wondered how our system works then this is the channel for you it can be very boring at some stages and you will notice the odd MP having a kip. This seems most noticeable in the upper house, as the Lords tend to sleep all the time. The channel itself has a good quality picture although I found the sound frequently cutting out but I think the problem has been solved for now. Located from the EPG in the News & docs menu its well worth a check out.
This channel is free of charge to anybody with analogue/digital cable, satellite or ON. It is very boring, as all it is is non-stop coverage of Parliament all day long. This is very tedious unless you are really into politics, in which case you'll probably think it's the best channel ever! Overall, this channel is not worth bothering with when there are loads of really good channels around nowadays, in fact ANY other channel is better than this!
I am sorry but this has to be one of the most pointless and useless channels ever to be created on cable/sky! Surely there are not any of you out there that would choose to have this channel so i cant understand why cable providers would think that we want want this in our standard package. Politicians are a total waste of time and if there are people out there who are "sad" enough to want this channel on their tv's then let them pay extra for it and give us normal people the chance to have something far more interesting to watch in its place! Who ever thought of this idea should take a long holiday and look very carefully at his/her life so far!
Well, the BBC is fulfilling it's remit here as a public serveice TV organisation. We now have the unique oppertunity almost world wide of being able to watch parliament through every stage of the game. I hate it most of the time, but sometimes you can sit down and really watch these guys do some serious debating on some serious issues. Its an information programme only. Its was designed to give the electorate a better chance of understanding who they are voting for and why. Its not entertainment all of the time, but you will not find a better source of information on British Politics anywhere in the country.
THe BBC is spending (some would say wasting) hundreds of millions of licence payer's money on 4 digital channels: BBC Choice, BBC Knowledge, BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament. The most worthy, the most dull, and the least viewed is BBC Parliament, but no doubt the governors of the BBC had a good eye for what would appease their ultimate lords and masters (no, not us!) when they set it up. Apart from the gladiatorial spectacle of Prime Question Time (already adequately tranmitted elsewhere) the rest of it is only likely to be of interest to those sitting for their "A" Level British Constitution.