Cameras are allowed in courtrooms in the US
The BBC, ITN and Sky have joined forces in an unprecedented letter to David Cameron and the other main party leaders calling for the ban on cameras in courtrooms to be lifted.
In the letter
the UK's three principle news broadcasters said the televising of courtrooms was a long overdue reform in which the country had lagged behind much of the rest of the world. They said the outcome could only be positive.
The joint letter comes two days before MPs are due to debate broadcasting in courts in Westminster Hall, and follows an announcement in September last year by the Ministry of Justice that it intended to allow the limited televising of courtrooms.
The letter, co-signed by BBC News director Helen Boaden, ITN chief executive John Hardie and head of Sky News John Ryley, was sent to Cameron, the prime minister and Conservative leader, Lib Dem leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband.
The broadcasters, who have worked for a number of years to overturn the ban, called for legislation to be included in this year's Queen's Speech in the autumn.
"The ability to witness justice in action, in the public gallery, is a fundamental freedom," they said in the letter. "Television will make the public gallery open to all.
"Each of our organisations fully accepts that there must be limitations on what can be broadcast and we agree that the presiding judge should have complete control of what is shown from the courtroom.
"We recognise that concerns have been raised about the impact television coverage will have, particularly in controversial cases.
"However, we believe that the outcome can only be positive. The experience over the last two years of live streaming from the Supreme Court has shown that the presence of cameras has not affected the course of justice in any way in this court. Instead it enhances public understanding and allows everyone to see justice being done.
"Everyone who believes in transparency should support this proposed change in the law. This is a long-overdue reform. For too long the UK has lagged behind much of the rest of the world on open justice. The time has come for us to catch up."
Ryley, writing in the Guardian in December 2010, said televising courtroom proceedings would help to tackle a growing public dissatisfaction with the judicial process and the suspicion that "something is rotten behind those closed doors".
Sky News broke new ground in 2003 when it provided a line by line feed of evidence from the Soham trial, and all the main broadcasters used 3D courtroom images to illustrate their reports from the Old Bailey.
It has now become commonplace to reporters to send tweets from court, with journalists no longer required to make an application to tweet, text or email during proceedings.