Live streaming: by choice

The live streaming camera in Waipā’s council chambers.

There appears to be little or no interest in compelling local bodies to live stream all their meetings.

Nanaia Mahuta

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has signalled she is comfortable with the current arrangement which leaves the decision over live streaming up to councils.

In an editorial last week Good Local Media argued Live Streaming should be compulsory and that the Government should help fund it.

We say streaming must stay

The Government already plough millions of dollars into a project called Local Democracy Reporting – which involves funding journalists to sit in existing newsrooms.

But the scope of that project is limited geographically, and major print media companies has significantly curtailed – if not axed – their coverage of local body meetings around the country.

That leaves residents interested in following their councils with only the option of attending meetings – or hoping they will be live streamed. In Waipā only the Cambridge News and Te Awamutu News covers all council meetings with exclusive stories.

In response to questions about making Live Streaming compulsory, Nanaia Mahuta noted local government meetings were open to the public by default and local authorities made their own decisions about live streaming their meetings.

The council in meeting-mode

But she added live streaming supported councils to be transparent, and enabled New Zealanders to stay up-to-date with local government in real time and on-demand.

She said some councils had been live streaming for many years and it was now more commonplace throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Councils are encouraged to continue to consider how digital technology can promote transparent decision-making and enhance their relationships with their local communities.”

Waipā based MPs asked about the issue also expressed support for live streaming, but they did not go as far supporting it being compulsory.

Jim Mylchreest

Waipā Mayor Jim Mylchreest said it was his council’s intention to continue to live stream full council and major committee meetings.

“We will investigate the ability to include other meetings as appropriate and as resources allow,” he said.

Waikato Regional Council chairman Barry Quayle did not respond to emails asking for his opinion.

Waipā and Waikato regional councils both live stream their meetings as a matter of course – but there are some shortcomings.

Barry Quayle

Working out who is talking is difficult and in the case of the regional council sound volume is so low as to make it almost impossible to hear without headphones.

The News recently reported it was pushing the Waikato Regional Council to improve its online services around meetings and wrote they were “shown on a delayed basis if at all”.

While not all meetings are broadcast live, the use of the phrase “if at all” was wrong – The News acknowledges the council strives to make all meeting available to view online.

Send us your views on live streaming – [email protected]

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