As Congress prepares to transition into its 112th session, C-SPAN is again pressing the House to allow its own cameras to cover floor debates.
Currently, the cameras used to cover House floor debates are owned and operated by Congress. Under the House rules, wide shots and reactionary shots are prohibited. Media outlets must rely on the feed provided by Congress. But C-SPAN argues that allowing its own cameras to televise floor debates would result in a more open, transparent government.C-SPAN founder and CEO Brian Lamb sent Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), who’s expected to take over as House Speaker in the next Congress, a letter, echoing the same plea Lamb has made to former Speakers of the House.
Currently, House floor debates are not in full public view because private news media cameras are still not permitted in the House chamber. Rules established when the House installed its TV cameras in 1979 restrict congressional camera operators to head-on shots of members at the podium and committee tables and, they are prohibited from taking reaction shots or shots of the chamber, leaving viewers with a less-than-complete view of your debates.
Read the entire letter here.
Boehner wrote C-SPAN in January, saying he and other House Republicans supported the network’s efforts to install its own cameras in the House chamber. But at the time Boehner was referring specifically to the importance of transparency during the health care reform debate.
“As you know, congressional transparency has long been a concern of citizens and congressional observers, but never before has the need for reform been more apparent than in the past year under the Democratic majority,” he wrote.
It remains to be seen whether C-SPAN will be allowed to install its own cameras in the House chamber under his leadership.
Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel told TPM in an email statement: “Rep. Boehner is committed to making the House more transparent and accountable. A number of media outlets, including C-SPAN, have requested the ability to install private cameras in the House chamber. While no decisions have been made at this time, these requests are under review.”