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.
In this spirit we are writing to you to renew a request we made to Speakers Gingrich and Pelosi as they assumed office—to allow House floor proceedings to also be covered by C-SPAN cameras.
We do not propose to change the current House recording system or its output. C-SPAN’s request is for the addition of a few small robotically-operated cameras in the House chamber. When mixed into the existing House production, shots from these cameras would allow us to produce a second feed of House floor debates that is a journalistic product.
As the only network that uses the complete daily feed of House debates, C-SPAN proposes to take the lead on this project and assume the costs for its installation and operation. This new feed would form the basis of C-SPAN’s live coverage of the House for our TV networks. We will make this feed widely available on the web; including archiving the complete feed in C-SPAN’s online video library and streaming it live on our website. Importantly, we do not intend for this to be an exclusive C-SPAN product- we’ll also make this feed readily available to accredited news media following established Hill pool practices.
We hope you will give serious consideration to our request and agree to take this important and symbolic step to fully open the people’s House to the American public. We’ll close by again quoting your letter to us: “Since the first New England town meetings of the colonial era, open government has been a hallmark of American democracy.” We look forward to working with you.
Brian P. Lamb