Saturday, March 03, 2007

Carl Malamud to Brian Lamb: “You should not treat the U.S. Congress like Disney would treat Mickey Mouse”

From Jon Udell's blog:

What I think a lot of people don’t understand — C-Span is a business, just like CNN is,” Mr. Collins said. “If we don’t have a revenue stream, we wouldn’t have six crews ready to cover Congressional hearings.

I wondered about that, but lacked context. Now Carl Malamud has provided the missing context. In a stunning letter to C-Span’s president and CEO Brian Lamb, which includes the above quote, Malamud points out that C-Span is supported not only by its revenues operating as a nonprofit business, but also by “considerable public largesse.” Taxpayers, Malamud argues, are footing the bill for much of the facilities, wiring, and equipment that enable C-Span’s camera crews to do their work.

Read the title link for more. My comments:

Great catch!

I’ve long been a fan of C-span and when I first got cable I soon found that I was watching it a large percentage of the time. I learned a lot of things about how our government works that were not covered (or were just plain wrong) in my high school civics classes, and now I find they don’t even teach civics any more! I tell everyone I talk to not to let another election go by without watching a few hundred hours of C-span (unfortunately almost nobody takes this advice).

In protest to the shoddy workmanship of most cable content I canceled my service several years ago and find myself much more informed about the world than I was as a couch potato, but part of the reason for this is that I still watch and read C-Span on the Internet. I constantly worry that they will start requiring some proof that I have cable service in order to get to their programs, which are in fact partially funded by those same cable monopolies.

I am of the opinion that all of the coverage of government should be in the public domain, and if the taxpayers have to foot the bill to make it so, then fine. Let C-Span broadcast those materials for the cable community and turn the digitized versions over to, Google, or anyone else willing to host them. I have no problem with C-Span selling the DVDs, CD, and so forth that they do either, such things are a convenience for many people who are not savvy about downloading, or don’t have fast connections, but for the rest of us there is no reason we should have to ask permission of C-Span or anyone else to make use of public hearings.

C-Span is at the same time performing a public service and, as your article indicates, possibly serving as a barrier to an even greater public service. One has to wonder if they have not become so set in their ways that they don’t want anyone rocking the boat.

Let’s rock!

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