Satire and Parliament

Over the last few days, there’s been a bit of a Twitter-ruckus (is that a word?) about the lack of More 4’s Global Edition of The Daily Show this week.
Graham Linehan has full details (and this New Statesman piece essentially regurgitates Linehan), but essentially the episode had to be pulled because the main item was based around clips from UK Parliamentary procedings. Boing Boing has also published a piece today.
And as regular readers of this site will know:
no extracts of Parliamentary proceedings may be used in any light entertainment programme or in a programme of political satire;
The producers of Have I Got News For You, for one, are well aware of this, and it has been mentioned on the programme on several occassions. But people tend to forget.
Incidentally, it doesn’t really need a Freedom of Information request to discover why broadcasters can’t use Parliamentary footage. It’s all right there on the www.parliament.uk website:
The guidelines for the use of the signals are:
a) no extracts of Parliamentary proceedings may be used in any light entertainment programme or in a programme of political satire;
b) subject to paragraph (a) above, extracts of Parliamentary proceedings may be included in broadcast “magazine” programmes which also contain music or humorous features, provided that the different types of item are kept separate;
c) extracts from Parliamentary proceedings may not be used in party political broadcasts;
d) no extracts of Parliamentary proceedings may be used in any form of advertising, promotion or other form of publicity, except in the form of trailers for programmes which use extracts within the requirement of these guidelines and where the trailers also comply with those requirements; and
The user shall at all times comply with all the rules of coverage, guidelines and directives laid down from time to time by the relevant select committee of each House in reports issued by them and otherwise.

Is it unfair? Absolutely.
Does it make us something of a laughing stock? Certainly.
I suggest we try a couple of courses of actions:
– employ those sketch artists we normally only get for court appearances, and over-dup them with the voices of actors previously employed to be the voice of Gerry Adams;
– get those nice Taiwanese news animators to use their vivid imaginations to denote how they think things went.
It’s also worth noting that many daily newspapers employ sketch writers who are given privliged seats in the Commons, despite their sole job being to report procedings with gentle humour.
Whether or not The Daily Show was breaking the rules by rebroadcasting clips taken from C-SPAN, I don’t know. It’s worth noting that around the Royal Wedding earlier this year, they noted that they weren’t allowed to use footage as that too was expressly forbidden in terms of satirical output.
All this does indeed remind us that a single late-night Global Edition of The Daily Show isn’t enough. Someone needs to broadcasting the programme four nights a week as it used to be.

3 Comments

  1. Someone was broadcasting the show every night but not enough people watched it to justify the time and effort of showing it any more.
    You can still get episodes on iTunes.

  2. What you say might be true. But you’re missing the word “money” from your reasoning.
    This does raise the question: is Apple is breaking UK law if they include clips of Stewart being satirical about UK Parliament?

  3. Of course you’re right, money is an issue, Comedy Central are wanting to charge more than More4 are willing to pay. The fact there’s not even been talk of it showing on the UK Comedy Central suggests that it’s not C4 being cheap, rather than the price asked being too high for the product, regardless of how loudly the fans of the show moan.
    The iTunes point is one I’d considered myself, but one I suspect there’s not a clear answer to, like many things of this type.

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