TV Cameras to Start Rolling in English Court

Networks will, for the first time, get pooled, near-live video footage from the Court of Appeal after years of pushing for access to courts.

LONDON – U.K. TV networks will get their first chance to show English courtroom video footage in a limited trial.

Broadcasting from the Court of Appeal is expected to start next week as long as the necessary legislation is brought into effect as planned, The Guardian reported.

In the U.S., the O.J. Simpson trial in the California state court was a big TV event, and many other state courts have also allowed cameras. Similarly, in South Africa, the Oscar Pistorius case earlier this year caused a media frenzy.

In the U.K., however, photography was banned from English courts in 1925, and film and video cameras were later added to the ban. Even now, media interest and coverage in the U.K. are expected to be less intense than elsewhere.

Last year, the British government announced plans to allow cameras at select court proceedings before the Ministry of Justice said TV cameras could start covering cases at the Court of Appeal in the fall.

Next week is expected to mark the formal start, but it isn't clear when the first footage will be shown on networks.

BSkyB's Sky News, ITN and other TV news organizations pushed for the change, arguing that trial coverage on TV would boost people's understanding of the judicial process. Meanwhile, critics have warned that the presence of cameras could affect court room proceedings and behavior by witnesses, jurors and others.

Sky News, ITN, the BBC and the Press Association have pooled resources in a joint venture to pay for the cameras that will provide a pooled feed. There will be a built-in delay of 70 seconds in case something that the networks think should not be heard or seen in public is mentioned, including swear words.

Observers predict that if the cameras work out in the Court of Appeal, they may also slowly be introduced to additional English courts over time.


Twitter: @georgszalai