WASHINGTON — The public-interest cable channel C-Span asked the U.S. Congress to allow greater camera access to both houses, according to letters sent to Republican leaders in mid-November.
Brian Lamb, Chief Executive Officer of C-Span, sent a proposal to Sen. Bob Dole and Rep. Newt Gingrich that would allow cameras into places from which they have historically been excluded, including the floor of the Senate.
Lamb asked that restrictions on Senate floor coverage be lifted, so that coverage could include panning the chamber for reaction shots, rather than focus solely on the Senators who are speaking. He also asked that cameras be operated by C-Span rather than a government employee, enabling a “more honest picture of Senate debates,” according to the letter to Dole.
The proposal also asks for permission to cover on-the-record briefings between reporters and the Majority Leader, known as “dugout chatter,” to install a camera off the floor to conduct interviews with Senators before or after sessions, and to permit camera access to all House-Senate conference committees.
The proposal also asks the House of Representatives to open House Rules Committee hearings and all other legislative committee hearings, including mark-up sessions, to television coverage.
C-Span cameras have been permitted in the past to cover testimony on legislative issues before a House subcommittee but were excluded from covering mark-up sessions, when committee members make changes to the legislation.
The exclusion of cameras from mark-up sessions contributes to the public’s skepticism about the political process, Lamb wrote.
Senator Dole’s office said the senator would seriously look into the proposal and will consult with Democrats before making a final decision.
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