Pelosi To Meet C-SPAN About Camera Coverage of House

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House Speaker-Elect Nancy Pelosi has offered to meet with C-SPAN to discuss a possible compromise on C-SPAN's proposal to take control of its coverage of the House chamber.

That came after the speaker-elect last month rejected C-SPAN's request  to take control of the camera positions-- now controlled by the speaker--and to get access to House vote tallies more quickly after the voting has closed.

 In a December 22 letter, Pelosi said that she would consider the vote tally request, but that the "dignity and decorum" of the House would be "best served by maintaining the current system of televised proceedings."

But after declining to provide a response to a USA Today editorial on the decision not to let C-SPAN control its cameras, Pelosi modified that stance and told the paper she planned meet with Lamb to look for some middle ground. C-SPAN confirmed that Pelosi has reached out to the channel, and expects to meet with her next week.

C-SPAN was not able to convince the Republican-controlled Congress to grant similar requests and was hoping for a different response from the Democrats. The House Speaker controls the camera--a rule that is part of the nearly 30-year-old deal that convinced the long-resistant legislature to allow the cameras in the first place.

Early on, Congressfolk were concerned about the "gotcha" factor, and they were worried that independent cameras would spotlight the almost-empty chambers to which impassioned speeches were being made or catch legislators napping.

In his letter to Pelosi, C-SPAN Chairman Brian Lamb said the speaker's control has become an anachronism that "does a disservice to the institution and to the public."

The inability to pan the chamber or take reaction shots--C-SPAN is allowed a static podium-shot view of House floor proceedings--gives viewers "an incomplete picture of what is happening," said Lamb.

To lay the "gotcha" ghost to rest, Lamb pledged that C-SPAN would commit to covering House debate "fully, accurately, and with the unbiased production style on which we've built our reputation."

It also pledged to make that coverage available to others on a pool basis.