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).
Cameras owned and controlled by the House now
cover House proceedings--part of the agreement when the House approved
televised coverage 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
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
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 December 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 renewed request.
C-SPAN also has to make do with the Senate cameras in its coverage of that side of the chamber, but the renewed call on the House side was prompted by the change in leadership to Republican control.