NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie has restricted all live streaming of the parliamentary proceedings to the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas through the Parliamentary Channel.
Moultrie said the reason for this measure is because there have been “issues with respect to the manipulation of parliamentary broadcasts”.
Just before the House began the supplementary budget debate on Thursday, Moultrie said he received a letter from Opposition Leader Philip Davis requesting that he be allowed to live stream his presentation during the debate – which Moultrie agreed to.
“We have in the past offered that same facility to the prime minister,” he said.
“But I want to bring it to the attention of this Parliament, that from this point forward, we have a facility already in existence on ZNS of the Parliamentary broadcast via the Parliamentary Channel.
“In the future, we would wish all persons who wish to live stream would just go onto Facebook, log into ZNSnews.com and stroll down to the Parliamentary channel live stream.”
Moultrie said he has received “a number of Whatsapp messages where the footage of the Parliamentary proceedings have been manipulated by persons running audio under the video of the proceedings of Parliament that is conveying a completely misleading and false report of the proceedings of Parliament”.
He continued: “In the future, it is the chair’s position that all live-streaming of the Parliament proceedings should be obtained via the ZNS network.”
The speaker also implemented rules for photographers and videographers recording the proceedings.
“Those persons who have been given permission are not permitted to take photographs below the waistline or the table top and not to allow wide angle shots, and obviously no video is permitted, particularly video that you are panning the room,” he said.
“The cameras are confined to the person that is speaking, the member that is on their feet, that is the only person that you should be focusing on and taking any photograph of.”
The latest declaration by Moultrie follows a series of similar rules recently implemented to control the broadcasting of the proceedings.
Last May, Fontella Chipman, the sister of Centreville MP Reece Chipman, made a loud outburst in the galleria, making condemning statements against the legislators.
Videos recordings of the incident were widely circulated.
Moultrie said those recordings posed a serious threat to security of the House, and he ordered the visitors must leave cell phones at the door with Royal Bahamas Police Force guards.
While rule does not apply to member of Parliament, technocrats or the media, the speaker said at the time, media will have to seek permission from the House through Chief Clerk David Forbes to capture cellphone video.
Moultrie has previously issued damning criticism of the fourth estate in The Bahamas, charging that media organizations have “descended” the quality and accuracy of reporting standards.
In October, the speaker ordered the deletion of any cellphone photos or videos captured by a staff reporter at The Nassau Guardian.
Moultrie said the journalist used the cellphone to record proceedings without permission.
The Nassau Guardian later revealed the deleted photos, which were recovered from the cellphone, were of Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper as he contributed to debate on the bill to allow for the replacement of government-issued documents lost due to the passage of Hurricane Dorian.