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Parliament proceedings have never been a big draw


Vol XXVIII   NO. 321      Saturday      4 February 2006


It is no wonder that advertisers are shunning Bahrain satellite television and Channel 38, whenever Shura and parliament sessions are being broadcast.

Even though I haven't conducted any research, I am sure they are right in anticipating a low target audience.

Personally, I have never seen anyone rush home, the way they do here when yet another season of American Idol or Survivor starts, to tune into the latest discussions at Shura or parliament.

I can't help but laugh when I hear that MPs have actually spent their precious time drafting a request to have their sessions broadcast in full, which is customary in many countries around the world, where parliaments really debate and reflect society's woes, concerns, needs and worries.

Even then, the average Joe isn't very keen to know what legislators are going on about, but Bahrain's unique experience and the quality of some of our representatives could draw attention and make a few jaws drop and tickle some, should the MPs manage to make their long-cherished dream come true.

Having covered the sessions for years, I understand the concern of advertisers.

Even journalists were caught dozing off and trying hard to suppress their yawns, as one honourable member after the other repeated the same argument, using more or less the same words.

My biggest concern after covering each session was facing the music from the deputy editor, who would cross-examine me as if I had control over what they discussed and not.

"Is this all they had to say ?" he would ask.

"Yes," I would reply, not knowing what else to say to hide my complete disappointment and even embarrassment at the level of some of the discussions.

"Didn't anyone stand up and challenge this?" he would continue.

"No. Not really," I would tell him, fully understanding his exasperation at the childish amateurish exchanges we had to sometimes report.

I used to envy television reporters covering the sessions, because they just had to broadcast what they filmed and not try to decode some of the encrypted messages uttered by the members.

Giving television audiences 90 minutes of sessions, which sometimes exceeded five hours, is enough punishment I suppose, especially when many members echo each other and rarely come up with something new, outrageous or even ridiculous to say.

When this does happen, television officials censor it, protecting the public from some of the fun we journalists used to experience first hand.

A better programme, which would guarantee a full house, would be a two-hour show summing up four years of squabbles, fights and heated exchanges between the members, as well as all the juicy scenes censored by Bahrain Television! It could even be dubbed "Bahrain's Funniest Home Movie."


great article.

Posted by: Blog | 25/01/2007


Posted by: 78453 | 13/11/2008

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