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05 January 2010

C-SPAN CEO Asks Pelosi & Reid For Transparent Health Care Coverage

C-SPAN, the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is a must for those concerned citizens who want to keep tabs on what their government is doing in Washington. Created by cable in 1979, C-SPAN provides thousands of hours of coverage to congressional hearings, political rallies, conventions, debates and other public affairs events from across the nation in a pure, unfiltered, uncut format.

Throughout 2009, C-SPAN showed both sides of the debate over health care reform. From the tea parties to the health care rallies to final votes in the House and Senate, C-SPAN has been there. As the health care legislation inches towards final passage, it is imperative that C-SPAN continues to shine a bright light on all our government's proceedings. However, C-SPAN may not be able to fulfill its unique role to the American people if congressional leaders decide not to open the doors of government to transparency.

Tuesday morning, C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb emailed a letter to the media (including this blogger) expressing his concern a final health care bill might be written behind closed doors and away from the inquisitive eyes of the public. The letter was addressed to the Democratic and Republican leaders -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Republican Leader John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Below is the full text of the letter along with some additional commentary:

Dear Speaker Pelosi:
Representative Boehner:
Senator Reid:
Senator McConnell:

As your respective chambers work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate health care bills, C-SPAN requests that you open all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage.

The C-SPAN networks will commit the necessary resources to covering all of these sessions LIVE and in their entirety. We will also, as we willingly do each day, provide C-SPAN’s multi-camera coverage to any interested member of the Capitol Hill broadcast pool.

Since the initial introduction of the America’s Affordable Health Care Act of 2009 in the House and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the Senate
C-SPAN has televised literally hundreds of hours of committee hearings, mark ups and floor debate on these bills for the public to see. And importantly, we have archived all of this video for future generations to study in the C-SPAN Video Archives.

President Obama, Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-file members, and the nation’s editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming the nation’s health care system. Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between the Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American.

We hope you will give serious consideration to this request. We are most willing to employ the latest digital technology to make the cameras, lights and microphones as unobtrusive as possible.

Please contact me if I can answer any questions.


Brian Lamb

It is important that C-SPAN sees this process through. It is even more important that the American people continues to see how Congress works, and how bills are passed.

Speaker Pelosi, Leader Reid, open up the doors of government and let the sunshine in.