Media access: terms and conditions
Read the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body's terms and conditions for media access at Holyrood.
Part 1: Media access
Areas with no media access:
- The floor of the Debating Chamber (unless agreed with Parliament Communications Office (PCO)).
- The floors of committee rooms (unless agreed with PCO)
- The Donald Dewar Room (unless agreed with PCO)
- MSP lounge at rear of Media Conference Room
- Education Service
- Crèche (unless as a parent using the facility in accordance with passholder user rights for Holyrood-based personnel which includes media)
Areas where access is by invitation only:
- MSP Offices (see below for terms of access)
- The Presiding Officers’ and Clerk’s offices in Queensberry House
- The Ministerial offices in Towers 3 and 4
- All staff accommodation
Areas of free access
Unless specified, media can assume free access to all areas including:
- All public areas and entrances
- Media Tower
- Black and White Lobby
- Garden Lobby
- Garden Lobby Restaurant
- Garden Lobby coffee area
- External landscaped areas (but not Members’ Garden – see Broadcast Access)
- Basement for bicycle storage along with showers and lockers, in accordance with booking procedures
Areas with specific access arrangements
- MSP Offices: Media passholders have free access to the corridors of the MSP Building. Media may only enter the inner or outer office space of a Member with the permission of the Member.
- First Floor Restaurant and Bar. Access to the first floor restaurant and bar is open to all passholders. Bookings for the restaurant will be restricted to Members only on sitting days until 10.30 am on the day in question. After 10.30am, any remaining tables will be available for booking by any passholder.
- Parliament Communications Office and Broadcasting Office: All parliamentary staff offices with the exception of the Parliament Communications Office (PCO) and Broadcasting Office will be access by invitation only. These two offices will operate a free access policy for media.
- Chamber Conference Room: Media passholders have access to this room for media conferences. The established practice of using this room (and other meeting rooms when it is not available) for the Scottish Government’s daily media briefing continues to be facilitated at Holyrood.
Part 2: Broadcast access
Broadcasters may film or record in all areas where they have access or are invited to access subject to the following conditions:
Broadcasters may only film (or film inside) or record (or record inside) the inner or outer office space of a Member with the permission of the Member. Members or Member’s staff may only be filmed or recorded within the corridor areas with the Member or Member’s staff permission.
Media passholders do however have free access to the corridors of the MSP Building. Media may only enter the inner or outer office space of a Member with the permission of the Member.
Filming or recording on the floor of the Chamber is subject to the Presiding Officer’s approval. Requests should be routed via PCO. Access will be given on a case by case basis.
Filming or recording from the public gallery and media gallery is not permitted except where agreed in advance by the Parliament Communications Office. In most cases, broadcasters are expected to make use of the Parliament’s broadcast feed.
Requests to film in Committee Rooms should be routed through the Parliament Communications Office. Committee Conveners will be consulted by PCO where requests relate to committee proceedings.
Filming or recording non-core parliamentary business such as meetings or media conferences held by MSPs are in accordance with the Member’s wishes. Access will require media to be pass-holders or vouched for by the Member.
Filming or recording in public areas within the parliamentary estate is permissible, but broadcasters are required to respect the privacy of building users. Building users should not be the focus of the shot or recording unless prior permission has been given by the individual.
Public cafeteria and self service restaurant
The privacy of building users should be respected in these catering areas. Requests to film or record should be routed via PCO.
First floor restaurant and bar
The privacy of building users should be respected in these catering areas. Requests to film or record should be routed via PCO.
Designated smoking area, Queensberry House courtyard
The privacy of building users should be respected in this area. Requests to film or record should be routed via PCO.
Filming or recording should take account of the need to protect Holyrood’s security. Filming security equipment or security measures requires the agreement of the Head of Security. Requests should be routed through PCO.
The Members’ Garden (outside the self-service restaurant) may be used on occasion as an interview location, but it should be noted that the area is not open to general use by passholders. Broadcasters must seek authorisation from PCO or Security before opening any fire exits from the Garden Lobby when accessing this area. As these doors are connected to the fire alarm system, unauthorised opening of the doors is not allowed. A security guard is also required to remain in attendance while the door is open, hence the emphasis on occasional use.
TV crews are requested not to set up camera equipment within the main coffee area in the Garden Lobby. This larger seating area should not be used for interviews or presenting to camera.
(Note: For this purpose, the larger coffee area is defined by drawing a straight line from the right hand bottom corner of the stairs, as you ascend, to the wooden apex that separates the larger seating area from the smaller seated area.)
The smaller coffee area is the preferred location for TV crews to set up for prolonged periods (i.e. more than 10 minutes). TV cameras should be positioned set back from the apex towards the two coffee tables that make up the smaller coffee area. If a crew is already in position here, the area should be shared equally by broadcasters if they intend to work in the Garden Lobby for a prolonged period.
Media are reminded that they should not enter parliamentary staff offices without invitation, and show due courtesy and consideration for other building users when exercising their right of access and filming.
Broadcasters are asked not to film on the stairs in the Garden Lobby or have presenters talk to camera from the stairs, unless permission has been sought from the PCO in advance. This measure is to avoid causing an obstruction on the Garden Lobby stairs.
Media are welcome to conduct interviews with Members throughout the parliamentary complex in accordance with the above terms. Broadcasters are expected to show due courtesy and consideration for other building users when exercising this right of access.
Holyrood has 14 permanent inject points for broadcasters which enable live interviews to be conducted around the complex. The inject points are provided free of charge as an integrated part of the Parliament’s broadcasting infrastructure, linking straight back to the broadcasters’ own offices in the Media Tower and beyond.
Six of these points will be available automatically to the broadcasters via an on demand booking system managed by the Parliament’s Broadcasting Office.
The six are located in the following positions:
- Black and White Lobby area (TV and Radio)
- Main Hall (TV and Radio)
- Outside Broadcast Parking area (TV and Radio)
- MSPs Garden Area (TV and Radio)
- Garden Lobby (TV and Radio)
- Public Landscaped Area (TV and Radio).
Use of the public entrance reception area point may interrupt the flow of visitors during peak times, therefore broadcast use of this point will be managed and monitored carefully to avoid crowding.
The other eight inject points are located in the following positions:
- The Debating Chamber
- One in each of the six Committee Rooms
- The Press Conference Room
These inject points are available free of charge for accredited broadcasters. Given the locations, requests for use should be made via the Parliament Communications Office in the first instance. PCO will seek the Presiding Officer’s approval / committee convener’s approval as appropriate and liaise with the Broadcasting Office
Part 3: Photographer access
Photographers who work for mainstream media organisations, whose work requires access to the Parliament, may apply for accreditation. Freelance photographers, like freelance journalists, are required to demonstrate that their work is likely to be used by mainstream media organisations. As such, the countersignature of a Pictures Editor or similar will be required by freelance photographers when applying for accreditation.
Physical access to Holyrood
Accredited photographers will have the same physical access rights to Holyrood as other media passholders.
Media photography in the Chamber
Photographers are permitted to cover proceedings in the Chamber from the gallery. All requests to cover proceedings must first be routed through PCO who will ensure that a pool arrangement is agreed if more than one photographer requires access. The photographer is required to ensure that he or she does not disturb visitors or passholders in close proximity to these areas.
Media photography in committees
All requests to cover proceedings must first be routed through PCO who will seek the approval of the Committee convener. Pool arrangements will be agreed by PCO if more than one photographer requires access. Given the relatively confined spaces of committee rooms, access should not be intrusive to proceedings or those giving evidence. PCO will take this into account when considering access requests.
Media photography in public areas at Holyrood
All access requests to take pictures elsewhere in the parliamentary estate will be judged on their merits and will take into account the privacy of building users. Requests for press photography inside must first be routed through PCO.
Photography in Members’ offices and news conferences
Where a Member invites photographers to attend a news conference in a privately booked room or to take photographs in their office, access and the signing in of unaccredited photographers will be the responsibility of the Member. The Member should ensure that a member of their staff is identified as the point of contact to facilitate access.
Part 4: Media protocols
In this section, media protocols set out the terms on which full media accreditation will be given to bona fide members of the media. It takes account of the legal Health and Safety responsibility the SPCB has in relation to all media based in the new Parliament building. It also reiterates the journalists’ code of conduct which all media must agree to adhere to on applying for accreditation. Media must also follow the Parliament's Security Policy practices.
Health and safety
With the Parliament owning its premises, the SPCB assumes the role of both landlord and ‘controlling employer.’ The role of controlling employer is set out in Regulation 11 of the Approved Code of Practice on the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This role requires the SPCB to establish site-wide arrangements and to pass information to other employers represented, advising them of these arrangements and the actions they will be expected to take to comply with the arrangements.
A corresponding duty is placed upon the media organisations based at Holyrood, as employers, in terms of the same regulations, to co-operate with the SPCB and co-ordinate efforts in relation to Health and Safety.
As such, all accredited media based at Holyrood are required to undertake fire-safety training along with any other appropriate training the SPCB deems necessary in order to comply with the regulations or to promote a safe working environment.
The Parliament’s media-accreditation process and annual pass-renewal process require media personnel to confirm that they acknowledge this legal requirement and that they will co-operate with the SPCB’s Health and Safety practices.
Media accreditation for Holyrood continues to take account of the 1999 recommendations of the Expert Panel on Media Issues to the Consultative Steering Group. This includes cases of alleged breaches of the journalists’ code of conduct, and a system of right of appeal. Ultimately, the Scottish Parliament reserves the right to withdraw parliamentary passes.
The Parliament will seek to grant all reasonable, genuine applications for accreditation. Accreditation will give all bona fide journalists (and media personnel) the same rights of access. The Parliament aims to promote wide accreditation which welcomes local and national media. Arrangements for visiting international media, particularly in relation to major events such as the opening of Holyrood, will continue to be facilitated.
Accreditation applications from non-mainstream news organisations, including individuals working for online websites, will also be considered if the applicant can demonstrate their work meets the Parliament’s accreditation requirements. Such website should provide sufficiently balanced, regular coverage of the work of Parliament with the right to reply within reporting. Sites should not be party political or represent single-issue campaigns.
Requests for accreditation should be made to the Scottish Parliament's Communications Office. All journalists and media personnel are required to operate by the Code of Conduct.
You can assist by:
- displaying your security pass at all times
- challenging anyone not displaying a pass or bringing it to the attention of security or police staff
- arranging visits, events and meetings in line with the current security and events planning guidance
- accompanying visitors i.e. non passholders at all times
- employing a clear desk policy by locking away documents, valuables, portable equipment and keys
- not bringing unscreened mail or parcels into the Parliament
- reporting a theft immediately if discovered
- reporting anything suspicious to the security control room
- ensuring that the electronically controlled doors are closed and engaged before moving on
- ensuring that care is taken with laptops, blackberries, mobile phones and other equipment and that sensitive papers are kept in a safe lockable place.