Setting the table doesn't mean the guests will come to dinner: televised courts in Australia
The Australian courts are entering their second decade of experimentation with televised court proceedings. Yet, the process has been slow and largely unfulfilling for both the courts and the television networks. Developments in this field, compared to other countries, notably the United States, Canada and New Zealand, have progressed only on an ad hoc basis. A preliminary study indicates that the management in television newsrooms, notably news directors, have not been proactive in gaining camera access in any systematic or unified way. Indeed, the courts have argued: "we got the table set but nobody came to dinner". In contrast, the other countries mentioned above have all either introduced televised court proceedings on a reasonably regular basis, have undergone formal trial periods of allowing cameras in courts, or both. It is the proposition of this paper that the Australian scenario should be considered within the context of the free speech debate and the absence of a constitutional Bill or Charter of Rights, which guarantees a free media. This lack of a constitutional guarantee of free speech sets Australia at odds with these other three democratic countries.
Communication: Questioning the Dialogue