Congress tries ‘reality TV’

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — The House of Representatives has embarked on a new reality show, dubbed Congress TV or “Bahay ni Nogie” that will broadcast live on cable television and on the Internet all the committee and plenary sessions.

“It will have no scripts. No makeups. No special effects. Just raw and live broadcast of what is going on in the House of Representatives,” Speaker Prospero Nograles said.

This is part of Nograles’ commitment to turn the Chamber into a true “House of the People” by being more transparent in conducting its affairs. It is also meant to encourage members to actively participate in committee and plenary deliberations.

“Apart from keeping the public abreast of what is going on in the Chamber, this would also dissuade lawmakers from malingering,” Nograles said.

“This has been one of my priority projects and I’m glad that it’s now online. We are now steadily putting together the transparency reforms that we have been yearning for in the House of Representatives,” he said.

What’s even better, Nograles said, is that not a single government fund was spent for the live television and Webcast project as it was made in partnership with Destiny Cable Inc., one of the country’s cable television networks, through its Global News Network.

The House sessions will be aired live on Destiny’s GNN Channel 3l.

Simultaneous with the television broadcast is a Webcast that can be accessed through mms://202.128. 41.99/gnn so that even non-Destiny cable subscribers can still access the House proceedings via Internet.

The ABS-CBN’s News Channel (ANC) is featuring a similar reality show called “Bahay ni Kuya” wherein select men and women were housed together and filmed 24 hours a day. The show’s personalities are booted out if they receive the lowest number of votes generated from text messages sent in by viewers.

“In the event that you are not connected to destiny or you are outside its coverage or even outside the Philippines, you can still access it through the Internet. Once connected, just open you media player and access it through its webcast address,” Nograles said. “It’s way slower than tv but with a good internet connection, the public can still see the House in action.”

The Speaker said that since there will be no scripts and all footages are practically raw and unedited, the public should not expect well-rehearsed debates and well-made up congressmen and congresswomen.

“Tempers may go up during debates just like in any debate and oily skins might show up. But that’s reality television,” Nograles said.

House observers said the live TV and webcast telecast is expected to encourage full attendance in the House session hall; encourage debates from among publicity-hungry lawmakers. Lawmakers who belong to the “silent committee” so-called because they are silent most of the time, will be exposed to the public.

Nograles said also nearing its completion is the House’s “pork barrel” website which would detail how each member of the House of Representatives allocates his/her Countrywide Development Fund entitlement.

“This is our commitment to our people. We are steadily putting these transparency reforms in place,” he said.