The BBC Democracy Live site is a recent creation and its significance has yet to be fully appreciated. It strikes me as an invaluable tool for members of the public to see what is happening in the Commons, Lords, Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, Northern Ireland Assemby and European Parliament, as well as in Westminster Hall and select committees.
The value in terms of the relationship between Parliament and citizen is that it is unmediated: electors can see what is happening direct without editorial comment and can watch for as long as they wish. As mainstream media coverage of Parliament declines, remains low, or is not of an outstanding quality, the more such direct access becomes a central tool of parliamentary democracy.
There is also value added in that the site utilises a ‘speech-to-text’ system. It adds words spoken in a video, enabling viewers to provide a word and the site links to the point in the video where the word is used. People may not be that interested in the processes of Parliament, but they are normally interested in particular topics.
Rather like the BBC Parliament Channel, the site provides notable value for money, operating on relatively limited resources. Last year, the Parliament Channel achieved an average viewing figure of 1.9 million viewers a month, which I think is impressive.
The more people get to know about both the Parliament Channel and Democracy Live, the better it will be for Parliament. Electors can see it, warts and all.