Back in the 1970s, we had a vastly different technological climate than we have today. The ability to capture and record the proceedings of the US Congress, and bring that audio and video into people’s homes in real time, was something that only cable and satellite providers could accomplish.
But we’re now over 36 years since the first C-SPAN broadcast. The ability to send a live stream of audio and video, as well as recording it for posterity, has been opened up to everyone. Teenagers stream themselves to the world playing video games these days. It’s time we ended C-SPAN’s privileged status, and nationalized the broadcasts of our own national legislature.
It turns out that C-SPAN doesn’t even own the cameras set up in the House and Senate chambers. The government does. So at this point there’s absolutely no reason for us to be giving C-SPAN special access to that video. It would be perfectly within our capabilities to open up that information to everyone, in the public domain as a government work. Sure, C-SPAN could continue to use it if they wanted, but then everyone else could, too.
Especially since the Cable and Satellite providers who run C-SPAN are starting to restrict access to online versions of the information, in order to promote their cable and satellite services, this means the Congressional proceedings being covered are not nearly as accessible by the public as they could be.
It’s time for the Congress to archive and stream its own stuff. Let C-SPAN consume the data if they wish, but end the C-SPAN monopoly. That monopoly is obsolete, and we can do better.