Class: Cable Communication

Title of Essay: 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