Cry to keep prying cameras at bay may grow shiller

Increasing acts of indiscretion by members of the Assembly may only hasten plans to keep the prying cameras of private TV channels away from the legislature.

While the BJP had initiated restrictions on lensmen in the two Houses of the legislature when it was in power, the Congress too may not be averse to such action. When Independent MLA Goolihatti Shekar and four others were disqualified as members of the Assembly in 2010, they created a ruckus, showing the Lower House in a bad light. TV channels had telecast live the proceedings of the House that resembled a battlefield.

TV cameramen used to stand behind the last row in the House. This had given an easy access for them to capture the proceedings. After the 2010 episode, lawmakers banned the entry of cameramen into the Hall. They were allowed only in the gallery (upstairs) and were also not allowed into the legislature lobby.

In 2012, cameramen caught three BJP ministers watching porn on their cellphones in the Assembly. This was telecast extensively, putting the saffron party on the defensive. A committee under the chairmanship of Shrishailappa V Bidarur had recommended that TV cameras be removed from the gallery. An alert cameraman can easily zoom in his lens from the gallery if he finds a legislator using his cellphone. Channels have also repeatedly aired members dozing off in the House. To save themselves from embarrassment in future, the legislature can either impose restriction on members bringing cellphones or disallow TV cameras anywhere in the legislature.

Private channels are not allowed to cover Parliament proceedings in Delhi. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have their own channels to cover the proceedings. Many state legislatures too do not allow the private channels. The MLAs expect the ban on TV cameras within the House in the next three to six months. The process is under way, with Information Minister Roshan Baig making it obvious that the State may have its own channels to telecast legislature sessions.

On Thursday, JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy, while criticising Prabhu Chavan for watching Priyanka Gandhi’s pictures, said, “The media is taking mileage out of the incident.”

A majority of the politicians on Thursday told the media that the act of Chavan was innocent and its portrayal by TV channels had sent a wrong message to the public. Despite the damage to their image, BJP MLAs continued to be jovial with TV reporters.

They hinted at the massive TRP channels got from the Chavan incident. An example of this was Chavan himself, who while interacting with TV reporters on Wednesday evening, laughingly said: “In the morning you guys made me a hero, by nightfall I have been portrayed as a zero.”

He was perhaps referring to the telecast of his wearing a garland of ration cards and then the episode of watching Priyanka’s pictures. KPCC president and MLC G Parameshwara said the decision on whether to ban private channels from the legislature was left to the Assembly Speaker and the Council chairman.

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