Fri, Feb 20, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Legislative Yuan to broadcast its sessions online

VIDEO-ON-DEMAND A group that monitors the legislature lauded the move and plans to hold an awards ceremony for the lawmakers who helped push it through

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Legislative Yuan will become more transparent as it allows the public to access its video-on-demand (VOD) system for the first time and watch open-door legislative meetings from outside the legislature starting today.

An official at the legislature’s Information Technology Department told the Taipei Times that people would be able to watch live broadcasts as the eight standing committees hold meetings, as well as plenary sessions, at ivod.ly.gov.tw without having to register personal information.

PROCEDURE COMMITTEE

However, meetings of the pan-blue-dominated Procedure Committee would not be available as the legislature does not currently record those meetings, the official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that anyone interested in watching the videos should use Internet Explorer because of compatibility issues.

Only around 800 people will be able to use the Web site simultaneously because its bandwidth remains limited, he said.

The launch of the Web site can be seen as a major breakthrough in terms of legislative transparency.

For years, activists had urged the legislature to grant the public access to its VOD system, previously accessible only within the legislature, so the public could scrutinize lawmakers’ conduct.

However, some legislators had expressed concern that the footage could be manipulated by opponents to sabotage their image and political careers.

The matter remained unresolved until a task force composed of seven legislators across party lines on Jan. 30 reached a consensus to open the VOD system to the public.

C-SPAN

The task force took trips to the US in a bid to learn from the broadcast experiences of the C-SPAN channel.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Daniel Hwang (黃義交), a member of the task force, said they would negotiate with the National Communications Commission next in a bid to establish a channel similar to C-SPAN.

The legislative watchdog Citizen Congress Watch (CCW) lauded the changes.

“This is an historic step that the legislature has taken, it’s a breakthrough in Taiwan’s legislative history,” CCW executive director Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳) said yesterday.

“We’re glad that the legislature is doing so and would like to express our appreciation to all the lawmakers and all the civic groups that made this come true,” Ho said.

Ho said that the group would continue to push for more transparency in the Legislative Yuan.

“Meetings of the Procedure Committee are not included in the VOD broadcast at this time. Pushing for meetings at the committee on the public VOD system will be our next goal,” he said.

The group will hold an award ceremony today at the legislature to honor lawmakers who helped push for public access to the VOD system.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LOA IOK-SIN

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