C-SPAN, which originally stood for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, was the first United States cable television network dedicated to 24-hour coverage of government and public affairs. C-SPAN features live coverage of the House of Representatives. The companion channel C-SPAN2 covers the Senate, while C-SPAN3 covers other live events.
The bulk of C-SPAN's operations are located on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., but they also maintain an archives on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Brian Lamb, C-SPAN's chairman and CEO, conceived of C-SPAN while working at the Cablevision company. It was created as a cable-industry financed, non-profit network for televising sessions of the US Congress. It receives no funding from any government source and does not sell sponsorships or advertising. The neutrality and lack of bias in its public affairs coverage is widely recognized.
C-SPAN first went on the air on March 19, 1979. C-SPAN 2, a spinoff network, covers all live sessions of the U.S. Senate and went on the air on June 2, 1986, with the original channel then focusing on the House. The latest spinoff, C-SPAN 3, began broadcasting on January 22, 2001, and shows other government-related live events along with historical programming from C-SPAN's archives.
On October 9, 1997, C-SPAN launched C-SPAN Radio which broadcasts on WCSP 90.1 FM in Washington, DC. The radio station, which also broadcasts on the XM and Sirius satellite radio systems, covers similar events as its sister TV networks, often simulcasting their programming.
The three channels also air government hearings, press conferences and meetings of various political, media, and non-profit organizations, book discussions , Q&A sessions, and occasionally show proceedings of the Canadian Parliament, British Parliament, and other governments while they are discussing matters relevant to the U.S. Similarly, the networks will sometimes carry news reports from other places around the world when major events occur, and translators are used if the originating broadcast is in something other than English.
C-SPAN has requested to air live United States Supreme Court proceedings, but has always been denied camera access. However, the network has aired audio tapes of the Court in session and has covered individual Supreme Court justices' speaking engagements.
All of C-SPAN's live feeds and much recorded video are available live free of charge on its world wide web site.
- Bob Rosencrans
- John Saeman
- Ed Allen
- Gene Schneider