House lawmakers call for a freer C-SPAN. But is that what they actually want? – JP


There were no rules in the House chamber last week, and C-SPAN made the most of it. 

Republicans’ multiday ordeal to select a speaker of the House — Kevin McCarthy ultimately won early Saturday morning, on the 15th ballot — left the chamber without an active rules package.

For C-SPAN, the nonprofit cable network that normally relies on a live feed provided by House officials, that meant their own camera operators had free rein to capture the drama — including an irate Mike Rogers, a GOP representative from Alabama, lunging at colleague Matt Gaetz of Florida after his “Never Kevin” coalition scuttled yet another ballot.

The rare view of the chamber made for compelling television and was reflected in C-SPAN’s ratings. On the first day of the new Congress, 379,000 households tuned in, up 161 percent over the opening day of the previous Congress, according to an estimate from Samba TV, a firm that tracks what people watch on smart TVs.

It also brought the often unsung network a heap of praise and has spurred efforts from both Republicans and Democrats to allow wider video coverage of the floor, reigniting a decades-old debate.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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