Karnataka Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri on Wednesday banned TV channels from video-graphing the proceedings of the house.
“Yes, we have banned the use of cameras inside the house. The Karnataka Assembly records all its proceedings and journalists can take visuals from the Assembly. Camera persons will not be allowed inside the assembly and Vidhana Parishad from now on,” Speaker Vishweshwar Hedge Kageri told TNM.
Speaker Vishweshwar said that journalists will be allowed to sit in the press gallery, however, private TV channels will not be allowed to bring in their cameras and record proceedings using their cameras or even phones. Similar to Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV, the output of the live proceedings will be shared by the Assembly.
Private television news channels were allowed to cover the proceedings of the Karnataka Assembly since 1994 when Congress leader KR Ramesh Kumar was the Speaker.
Every year, the Speakers of the state assemblies and the chairpersons of the Vidhana Parishad (upper houses) gather for the All India Presiding Officers Conference. In the conference held in 1994, the issue of telecasting the proceedings of the house live was discussed.
Former Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar told TNM, “Prior to 1994, the electronic media was not that active and there were very few private channels. We were not in a position to allow live coverage of proceedings. In 1994, during the conference, it was decided that TV channels were allowed to bring in cameras inside the assembly. The conference is conducted to keep reviewing various issues regarding assemblies in order to make parliamentary democracy more effective. The whole objective of allowing cameras was to keep everything transparent. As a first measure, when I was the Speaker in 1994, we had decided to permit all cameras inside and from then, it has gone uninterrupted.”
Stating that the ban on cameras inside the Assembly is “unfortunate,” Ramesh Kumar maintained that the move was “anti-democratic."
“The idea is my electorate must know how I behave. I am a trustee on the side of my people. If I behave in a way contrary to what my people expect they must be able to decide how to deal with me when the time comes. Eternal vigilance is the price you pay for democracy. You can’t manipulate and bully people. You must bow down your head before the people. Avoiding cameras is only preventing people from knowing what is happening here. Is it pro-democracy or anti-democracy?” he said.
In 2012, TV cameras had captured footage of the then Karnataka MLA Laxman Sangappa Savadi watching porn on his phone inside the Assembly. Following the uproar, Laxman Savadi was forced to resign. In February 2012, the then Speaker, KG Bopaiah had banned private television channels from recording and broadcasting live proceedings of the House until a committee set up to probe Savadi's behaviour submitted its report. The ban was later lifted.
In 2014, after the Congress came to power, the then Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa had told the media that the government was mulling a proposal to ban television cameras from broadcasting live the Assembly proceedings. However, this proposal had then fallen through.