Posted by Bill Osborne

Two representatives of CSPAN spoke to the Rotary Club of North Jackson at the club’s March 9, 2021 meeting. In their presentation, they discussed the various CSPAN channels and the fact that CSPAN is not publicly funded, but gets its funding from the television broadcast networks.CSPAN is an acronym for “Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network.” It is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1979. It was initially devoted to televising sessions of the U.S. House of Representatives but later expanded, with the creation of additional channels, to air coverage of the U.S. Senate and other government proceedings and public affairs programming.

C-SPAN was the brainchild of Brian Lamb, who came up with the idea while working at a cable industry trade magazine; he later served as the network’s CEO (1979–2012). C-SPAN debuted on March 19, 1979, and was available in some 3.5 million homes. The following year, it introduced a call-in feature, which became extremely popular. In 1981 the network began broadcasting daily, and the following year it moved to a 24-hours-a-day schedule. Although it initially focused on the U.S. House of Representatives, in 1986 the Senate agreed to televised coverage, and C-SPAN2 was introduced to carry those proceedings. C-SPAN3, which began airing in 2001, covers live political events and airs archived historical programming. In addition to the U.S. government, the network also occasionally airs coverage of the British Parliament, the Canadian Parliament, and other governments whose proceedings might be of some importance to viewers. In 2010 C-SPAN was available in more than 100 million households.

C-SPAN does not receive funding from the government. Instead, its operating revenues are paid by license fees collected from the cable systems that offer the network to their customers. Its board of directors is composed of executives from television operating companies. Adhering to its policy on neutrality, C-SPAN does not sell advertisements or sponsorships. By airing unfettered video coverage of speeches and legislative proceedings, C-SPAN gives those in office and other figures of public interest a channel through which they can reach the public without the filters of traditional media outlets.

The following is a photo of Jaden Green in the CSPAN Control Room from which she spoke.

Green said that CSPAN covers the Mississippi Book Festival each year. She showed photos of the festival and of JPS’ Northwest Middle School on Medgar Evers Blvd.

We sincerely appreciate the presentation and the fact that CSPAN offers unbiased, unfiltered coverage of our federal government and of both the Canadian and British governments. A video of the meeting and of the CSPAN presentation can be seen at the following link: