C-SPAN Requests Permission to Allow More Cameras in House Chamber

C-SPAN sent a letter to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) asking for the organization to be permitted to bring in more cameras to the chamber to allow more “transparency” in the U.S. House of Representatives.

C-SPAN, a private not-for-profit public affairs network committed to covering Congress since 1979, sent a letter to McCarthy, — as the organization has done to many past Speakers — to ask for permission to bring its cameras into the House chamber to cover more key legislative sessions.

“Since the U.S. House first allowed its sessions to be televised nearly 43 years ago, there has been little change in the strict rules that House technicians must follow to provide video coverage of the floor to news organizations, including C-SPAN,” the organization explained in the letter.

However, it also acknowledged that during last week’s Speaker election, the organization was permitted to bring its own cameras into the chamber instead of relying on a wide-paned government feed that usually saturates C-SPAN’s daily coverage since the rules package was not adopted until this week.

The Hill noted, without a Speaker in place, for members to be sworn in to adopt the rules package, C-SPAN had full freedom to focus its shots in the direction of its camera operators instead of being restricted. And as CNN acknowledged, the feed caught members talking across the aisle, which is something not typically seen outside the chambers.

The letter continued:

We do not propose replacing the existing House Recording system or its output. Instead, We request to install a few additional cameras in the House chamber. When mixed with the existing House production, shots from our cameras would allow us to create a second, journalistic product, just as we did last week. Audio would continue to be provided by the House Recording Studio.

We understand there is a move among some members for a resolution that would relax the rules used by the House Recording Studio. While this would be an improvement over the current static shots of the dais andthe podium, video produced by government employees lacks the transparency that C-SPAN, as a journalistic institution is able to provide.

If ongoing daily coverage of sessions by C-SPAN is not acceptable to the Congress, we request that you at least revisit the rules and permit C-SPAN and other independent journalists to cover key legislativesessions. This process could work quite simply with us and/or other accredited news organizations submitting requests for enhanced coverage to the Radio/TV Gallery, much as we now do with Congressional hearings.

On Monday, the House adopted rules for the 118th Congress after agreements were made between McCarthy and his Republican detractors during last week’s historic speaker battle. The package included numerous changes to the previous Congress’s rules and was passed on a 220–213 margin.

In addition to C-SPAN sending letters to some of the past Speakers to ask for wider coverage in Congress, the organization has also sent letters to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in February 2021 to request more cameras to be allowed into the Senate Chamber to cover the second Trump impeachment, and to then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in January 2020 to request more cameras to be allowed into the Senate Chamber to cover the first Trump impeachment.



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