C-SPAN, the Cable TV channel


C-SPAN, the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network is a medium that
truly brings the government to the people. By presenting live and uncut footage
of our government in action, the citizens of the United States can get a bit
closer to what the founding fathers had in mind when they created our government.
C-SPAN is truly a unique channel amongst the mass of today\'s viewing options.
C-SPAN was launched March 19, 1979, "to provide live, gavel to gavel coverage of
the United States House of Representatives."1, but the enterprise has been
expanded beyond the original one channel and now utilizes several mediums to
reach its goal. The originator of this idea of bringing government into
peoples\' homes was Brian Lamb, who in addition to being the chairman and CEO of
C-SPAN, is also a host on many of C-SPAN\'s programs. Brian\'s primary belief is
that people should be able to see government in action without soundbites,
computer maps, models, images, music, and news anchor commentary. Brian feels
that if people can see government in action without the normal clutter, then
they can more easily make decisions for themselves about politics and the
workings of their government. In addition to C-SPAN, a second channel, C-SPAN2
has also been created. C-SPAN2 is committed to providing live and uncut
coverage of the U.S. Senate when it is in session. C-SPAN2 continues the
tradition of the original channel by giving an even wider unfiltered and
unplugged view of our government in action. In addition to video, C-SPAN also
has 2 different audio networks that broadcast international and American
political content, unfiltered and uncut. Also, C-SPAN has moved into the
computer world and has established a homepage to provide information to people
about its services, as well as receive feedback from viewers via email. One of
the most unique aspects of C-SPAN is that all of its services are offered
totally commercial free. C-SPAN is paid for by cable and satellite operators
who each pay a per-subscriber fee to C-SPAN when the channels are carried on
their cable systems. C-SPAN does sell merchandise bearing its logo, such as
coffee mugs, T-shirts, and hats, however these are certainly intended as
advertising for the network itself rather than a direct source of income.
As of July 1995, C-SPAN is received by over 64.3 million or 71 percent
of U.S. households, and C-SPAN2 is received by over 41.1 million or 46 percent
of U.S. households. C-SPAN is distributed primarily through cable TV systems,
however it can also received by both analog and digital satellite receivers.
The C-SPAN Audio 1 network is received by 5.1 million households, and 3.2 of
these also receive the Audio 2 network.2
When the House is not in session, C-SPAN airs a variety of original
programs to round out its 24-7 schedule. "Washington Journal" is a magazine
format morning program that focuses on the events of capital hill. The show
features public officials commenting on the morning\'s news articles as well as a
viewer call-in portion in which viewers comment on articles and speak with the
guests. "Booknotes" focuses on in-depth conversations with the authors of
recently published books about history, politics, and public policy. "Road to
the White House" was an ongoing series that looked at various aspects of the
1996 presidential campaign including fundraising, debates, advertisements, and
party conventions. "Prime Time Public Affairs" is a program that airs the most
important public policy issue of the day. From the President speaking in the
White House to a State Department hearing on an important issue, a range of
events are covered in their entirety. "American Perspectives" is labeled as a
"special public affairs program"3 that presents special events and speeches.
This program airs only on the weekends. Past programs have included a lecture
series on U.S. presidents, a James Carville and William Safire debate, and a
look at the Library of Congress\' famous Lincoln papers. "America and the
Courts" covers the inner workings of the federal judiciary. This program offers
court coverage as well as speeches and appearances by Supreme Court justices.
C-SPAN also airs all National Press Club luncheon addresses. Previous speakers
have included Bob Dole, Boris Yeltsin, Coretta Scott King, Attorney General
Janet Reno, and U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove. One of the more novel programs
aired on C-SPAN is The Close Up Foundation. In this programs, high school
students gather with senior Americans to discuss current events and policy with
the nation\'s leaders. Finally, C-SPAN airs many international programs.
Coverage of the British House of Commons Question Time is aired once a week.
This provides coverage of