C-SPAN Renews Call For Its Own Cameras In House


C-SPAN last week renewed its request to use its own cameras to cover floor proceedings in the House of Representatives.

That came in a letter to the expected new speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio).

House proceedings are now covered by cameras owned and controlled by the House -- part of the agreement when televised coverage was approved by the House back in 1979 -- with only head-on shots and no chamber or reaction shots allowed. C-SPAN is allowed to use its own cameras to cover committee hearings, press conferences and speeches.

C-SPAN wants to add a few robotic cameras of its own to the chamber and produce a second feed that it says would be a "journalistic product." C-SPAN would pay for the cameras and production.

C-SPAN says if it gets the OK, it would make the feed available to other media to stream on their Web sites.
C-SPAN pointed out to Boehner that he had been supportive of its request back in January to televise health care negotiations, in which he told C-SPAN that "Republicans have listened to the American people and are committed to making Congress more accountable to the people it serves."

C-SPAN has been trying to get its own cameras into the chamber for years (see similar letters to Newt Gingrich  and Nancy Pelosi without success. Pelosi in her response to a 2006 request, said that she believed that the "dignity and decorum" of the House was best "preserved" by sticking with the current system, pointing out that "every spoken word in an exchange between members or between members and the chair is broadcast live."

Well, almost. There are side conversations and impromptu gatherings that do not make it on the video record.

Boehner's press secretary was not available at press time to comment on the request.