BBC Parliament

BBC Parliament

Infobox TV channel
name = BBC Parliament
logofile = BBC Parliament ident.jpg
logosize = 200px
logoalt = BBC Parliament ident
launch = 23 September 1998
share = ~0.0%
share as of = April 2008
share source = [cite web|url=|title=BARB Monthly Viewing Summary]
owner = BBC
former names = The Parliamentary Channel
web = []
sister names = BBC News
terr serv 1 = Freeview
terr chan 1 = Channel 81
sat serv 1 = Freesat
sat chan 1 = Channel 201
sat serv 2 = Sky Digital
sat chan 2 = Channel 504
sat serv 3 = Astra 2A
sat chan 3 = 11954 H / 27500 / 2/3
cable serv 1 = Virgin Media
cable chan 1 = Channel 612
online serv 1 = BBC News Online
online chan 1 = [ Watch online] (UK only)
adsl serv 1 = Tiscali TV
adsl chan 1 = Channel 502

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 and the yearly party conferences of the main political parties.

Before being taken over by the BBC, the channel was known as The Parliamentary Channel, at first operated by United Artists Cable and funded by a consortium of British cable operators. [cite web|url=|title=Broadcasting Select Committee Minutes Of Evidence, 1997] The Parliamentary Channel launched as a cable-exclusive channel in 1992. The channel was purchased by the BBC in 1998, retitled 'BBC Parliament', and relaunched under the new name on 23 September 1998. It now broadcasts on cable, satellite, Freeview.

The channel ran as an audio service via DAB from launch until 14 November 2000 [cite web|url=|title=TV & Radio Bits - Key Dates|accessdate=2007-04-30] .

Due to capacity limitations on the Digital Terrestrial Television platform, known as Freeview, from launch until 30 October 2002, the channel ran as "audio only". Then on Freeview from October 2002 until 13 November 2006 the channel was only able to broadcast a quarter-screen picture. After receiving "thousands of angry and perplexed e-mails and letters" [cite web|url=|title=BBC NEWS - The Editors|accessdate=2007-04-30] , not to mention questions asked by MPs in the Houses of Parliament itself, the BBC eventually found the bandwidth to make the channel full-screen [cite web|url=|title=BBC NEWS - Programmes - BBC Parliament - BBC Parliament goes full screen|accessdate=2007-04-30] .

It is unique amongst the BBC channels in that it is broadcast using non-BBC facilities - with ITV's Millbank Studios, based in Westminster, supplying the engineering and playout facilities (although CBeebies will soon become the second such channel when it moves live presentation to Teddington Studios in 2008). Production, editorial and journalism are, however, maintained by the BBC.

The 2002 relaunch has introduced an identity more in line with the BBC's corporate image, the channel now featuring music and graphics produced by BBC News.

Archive programming

General election repeats

Since 2002, the channel has frequently shown (almost) complete recordings of BBC general election coverage from a given year, from the 1955 election, the first British election programme to be telerecorded, to the 2005 election. Some have been broadcast on the anniversary of their original transmissions. The channel's editor has described this as adding "something of value" and says it helps the channel "reach a wider audience for our normal parliamentary schedule". [cite web|url=|title=BBC NEWS - The Editors|accessdate=2007-05-08]

* 1955- 26 May 2005 (50 years to the day. Only three hours of the programme are known to exist)
* 1964- 4 January 2004 & 3 October 2008
* 1966- 31 March 2006 (40 years to the day. One hour 'highlights' programme) & 8 April 2006 (full coverage)
* 1970- 26 September 2003 & 18 July 2005 (Unadvertised, shown due to the death of Edward Heath a day earlier)
* February 1974- 3 October 2003
* October 1974- 10 October 2004 (30 years to the day)
* 1979- 7 September 2002 & 3 May 2004 (25 years to the day). In addition, the overnight coverage was shown on 12 June 2008 on BBC Four
* 1983- Originally scheduled for 10 October 2003, though was not broadcast. Eventually shown 6 October 2006 and again on 30 May 2008 (25th anniversary, but not to the day)
* 1987- 5 September 2005 & 5 October 2007 [cite web|url=|title=BBC NEWS - The Editors|accessdate=2007-05-08]
* 1992- 9 April 2007 (15 years to the day.)
* 1997- 8 September 2002, 13 May 2005 & 7 May 2007 (10th anniversiary, but not to the day)
* 2005- 7 May 2005 (Two days after its original transmissions)

Notably, the 1997 coverage was broadcast "clean"- without the original on-screen graphics, although they have been included on all other elections.

Also, in June 2005, BBC Parliament showed two hours of results coverage of the 1975 referendum over Europe to mark the 30th anniversary of the vote.

Other programming

The channel's very first archive rerun was to celebrate the Golden Jubilee in June 2002 when BBC Parliament reran the coronation coverage.

In 2005 the channel showed the coverage of the funeral of Winston Churchill to mark the 40th anniversary of his death.

To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Suez Crisis in November 2006, writer and broadcaster Anthony Howard introduced a special series of programmes on the channel. This included television broadcasts by prime minister Anthony Eden, Labour Leader of the Opposition Hugh Gaitskell and a new documentary called "Suez in Parliament: a Fine Hullabaloo".

In April 2007, Brian Hanrahan introduced "Falklands Night". This programme featured BBC television's news coverage of the Falklands Conflict, shown to mark the 25th anniversary of the outbreak of hostilities. The output included news bulletins and reports from the time, editions of "Newsnight" and excerpts of debates from Question Time. "Falklands Night" was shown several times during the spring of 2007.

On July 1, 2007 the channel had a "Hong Kong Night", presented by Chris Patten, the last Governor of Hong Kong, which reran coverage of the handover ceremony, to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the end of British rule, and the handover of Hong Kong to China.

On September 1, 2007 the channel re-ran the funeral of Princess Diana to coincide with the tenth anniversary of her death. The rerun was shown at the precise broadcast times of the BBC coverage, running from 0825 until the BBC coverage ended at 1600. David Dimbleby, who anchored the BBC's coverage, said a few words at the beginning and the end of the rerun.

On 18 November 2007 Cliff Michelmore came out of retirement to present "The Pound in Your Pocket". This was an evening of BBC archive programmes shown to mark forty years since the devaluation of the Pound by the British government on 18 November 1967. The Money Programme, Twenty-Four Hours, highlights from the 1968 Budget programme and ministerial broadcasts were among archive shown. The programme's title is taken from the famously misquoted television broadcast made by the Prime Minister Harold Wilson about the devaluation on 19 November 1967. Wilson said: “"It does not mean that the pound here in Britain, in your pocket, in your purse or bank has been devalued."”

On 26 May 2008 Joan Bakewell introduced an archive evening called "Permissive Night" which examined the liberalising legislation passed by Parliament in the late 1960s which made Britain a more tolerant and permissive place to live. Topics covered included changes to divorce law, the death penalty, the legalisation of abortion, the Race Relations Bill, the partial decriminalisation of homosexual acts (using editions of the documentary series "Man Alive") and the relaxation of censorship. The evening concluded with a special edition of "Late Night Line-Up", the review programme that Joan Bakewell presented in the late 1960s.

When live coverage from the House of Commons, House of Lords, committess etc ends early and there is a gap to fill before the commencment of the next programme, BBC Parliament often shows edition portions of Britain's Best Buildings, Palace of Westminster episode. These portions usually last from 5-15 minutes, depending on how long the gap is to fill.

Regular programming

* "Dateline London"
* "Dragon's Eye" (BBC Wales)
* "First Minister's Questions" (from the devolved administrations)
* "Hearts and Minds" (BBC Northern Ireland)
* "Mayor's Questions" (from the London Assembly)
* "Politics Scotland" (BBC Scotland)
* "The Record"
* "The Record Europe"
* "BOOKtalk"
* "Washington Journal" (C-SPAN)


External links

*|id=parliament|title=BBC Parliament

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