Oireachtas begins webcasting

14 Dec 2005

Government debates are now being broadcast live over the internet on a pilot basis, the Government Chief Whip and Minister for the Information Society Tom Kitt TD has announced.

Kitt, who also chairs the Joint Committee on Broadcasting and Parliamentary Information, said yesterday that the proceedings of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann are to be streamed in a live webcast, accessible at www.oireachtas.ie.

The webcast is available in high-bandwidth or low-bandwidth streams, which visitors to the site can choose as the most appropriate for their internet connection. The streams can be viewed in Windows Media or RealPlayer formats. High-speed broadband users will be able to watch the parliamentary debates at television quality (1.2Mbps).

The service takes its feed from the digital television system already in place at Leinster House and as such the video image quality is high. Captions are provided on the screen, showing the business before the house or the name of the deputy or senator speaking. Users can check the Dáil or Seanad agenda at the same site before deciding to view a particular debate.

The pilot takes advantage of technology and networks built by the Houses of the Oireachtas Broadcasting Unit and HEAnet, one of Ireland’s education and research network providers. The webcast will be streamed across HEAnet’s advanced national network infrastructure.

To ensure sufficient bandwidth for the service, the webcasting system has a 2Gbps connection to the Inex internet peering point in Ireland, as well as a 5Gbps connection to the general internet and 7Gbps links to education and research networks.

In a statement announcing the pilot scheme, the joint committee said it believed that the service would improve public access to and interaction with the houses, deputies and senators.

By Gordon Smith