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C-SPAN


Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network is an American pay television network that was created in 1979 by the cable television industry as a nonprofit public service. It televises many proceedings of the United States federal government, as well as other public affairs programming. The C-SPAN network includes the television channels C-SPAN (focusing on the U.S. House of Representatives), C-SPAN2 (focusing on the U.S. Senate), and C-SPAN3 (airing other government hearings and related programming), the radio station WCSP-FM, and a group of websites which provide streaming media and archives of C-SPAN programs. C-SPAN's television channels are available to approximately 100 million cable and satellite households within the United States, while WCSP-FM is broadcast on FM radio in Washington, D.C. and is available throughout the U.S. on SiriusXM via Internet streaming, and globally through apps for iOS and Android devices.

C-SPAN was launched on March 19, 1979, in time for the first televised session made available by the House of Representatives, beginning with a speech by then-Tennessee representative Al Gore. Upon its debut, only 3.5 million homes were wired for C-SPAN, and the network had just three employees. C-SPAN began full-time operations in September 14, 1982. The second C-SPAN channel, C-SPAN2, followed on June 2, 1986 when the U.S. Senate permitted itself to be televised. It began full-time operations in January 5, 1987. C-SPAN3, the most recent expansion channel, began full-time operations on January 22, 2001, and shows live/taped public policy and government-related events on weekdays, with historical programming being shown on weeknights and weekends. It has also sometimes served as an overflow channel for live programming conflicts on C-SPAN and C-SPAN2. C-SPAN3 is the successor of a digital channel called C-SPAN Extra, which was launched in the Washington D.C. area in 1997, and televised live and recorded political events from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time Monday through Friday.

C-SPAN began promoting audience interaction early in its history, by the regular incorporation of viewer telephone calls in its programming. It has since expanded into social media. In March 2009, viewers began submitting questions live via Twitter to guests on C-SPAN's morning call-in show Washington Journal. The network also has a Facebook page to which it added occasional live streaming in January 2011. The live stream is intended to show selected well-publicized events of Congress. In June 2010, C-SPAN joined with the website Foursquare to provide users of the application with access to geotagged C-SPAN content at various locations in Washington, D.C.

With its public affairs programming, C-SPAN intends to offer different viewpoints by allowing time for multiple opinions to be discussed on a given topic. For example, in 2004 C-SPAN intended to televise a speech by Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt adjacent to a speech by Holocaust denier David Irving, who had unsuccessfully sued Lipstadt for libel in the United Kingdom four years earlier; C-SPAN was criticized for its use of the word "balance" to describe the plan to cover both Lipstadt and Irving. When Lipstadt ended media access to her speech, C-SPAN canceled coverage of both.

In 2008, C-SPAN's online political coverage was expanded just prior to the elections, with the introduction of three special pages on the C-SPAN website: the C-SPAN Convention Hubs and C-SPAN Debate Hub, which offered video of major events as well as discussion from weblogs and social media about the major party conventions and candidate debates. C-SPAN brought back the Convention Hub for the 2012 presidential election.

C-SPAN's public service nature has been praised as an enduring contribution to national knowledge. In 1987, Andrew Rosenthal wrote for The New York Times about C-SPAN's influence in political elections, arguing that C-SPAN's "blanket coverage" had expanded television journalism "into areas once shielded from general view". The network has received positive media coverage for providing public access to proceedings such as the Goldman Sachs Senate hearings, and the U.S. 2010 Healthcare Summit, while its everyday programming has been credited with providing the media and the general public with an intimate knowledge of U.S. political proceedings and people. The ability of C-SPAN to provide this service without federal funding, advertising or soliciting viewer contributions has been remarked by local newspapers and online news services, with the Daily Beast terming C-SPAN's $55 million annual budget (in 2009), "an astounding bargain." In an article on the 25th anniversary of the network, The Washington Post noted that C-SPAN's programming has been copied by television networks worldwide and credits the network with providing information about foreign politics to American viewers. According to The New York Times, C-SPAN's mission to record official events in Washington, D.C. makes it "one of a kind", particularly in the creation of the C-SPAN Video Library, which received significant press coverage.