VISITS UNDERTAKEN IN CONNECTION WITH THE
15-18 MARCH 1999
(a) Washington DC
The main purpose of this part of the visit was to
examine C-SPAN's operation, which is often held up as an example
of best practice. C-SPAN is a private, non-profit public service
of the cable television industry, and earns its operating revenues
through licence fees paid by cable systems that offer the network
to their customers.
The cable industry created C-SPAN (Cable-Satellite
Public Affairs Network) in 1977 to provide live, gavel-to-gavel
coverage of the US House of Representatives. Since those early
days, C-SPAN has grown into a diverse information service that
provides public affairs programming 24 hours a day in a variety
of formats. Today the cable industry remains the primary distributor
or the C-SPAN networks, and continues that distribution as a service
to the public.
C-SPAN is a non-profit educational organisation with
a board of directors comprised of executives from large and small
cable television operating companies. While the board establishes
network policy and provides financial oversight, it is not involved
in C-SPAN's editorial decision-making.
By 1982, C-SPAN's schedule expanded to 24 hours a
day, seven days a week. Today, C-SPAN has a staff of 260; its
round-the-clock programming is available to 70 million TV households
via nearly 6500 cable systems. In June 1986, the US Senate began
televising its proceedings, and the cable industry created C-SPAN2
to telecast Senate debates.
15 March 1999
Residence of HM Ambassador
Informal briefing meeting with HM Ambassador, Embassy
Officials, American and (US-based) British journalists and broadcasters.
16 March 1999
Offices of C-SPAN
Ms Carolyn Deady, International Producer, and Mr
Steve Scully, Manager and Political Editor.
Mr Terry Murphy, Vice-President, Programming.
US House of Representatives
The Hon J Dennis Hasstert, the Speaker.
Mr Lew Ketcham and Mrs Annie Tin, C-SPAN Congress
Ms Tina Tate, Director, Radio and TV Galleries, House
Offices of C-SPAN
Ms Joanne Wheeler, Education and Marketing Services
Mr Brian Lamb, Chief Executive Officer, and Mr Bruce
Collins, Vice-President and General Counsel. (During this meeting
the Committee also held a telephone conference with Mr Brian Lockman,
Chief Executive Officer, Pennsylvania Cable Network.)
In 1994, the Canadian House administration initiated
a network (similar to the Palace of Westminster's PDVN) entitled
the Office Automation Systems and Information Services (OASIS)
Network, which, unlike the system in Westminster, enables Members
to have access to, for example, broadcasts of House debates and
televised committee meetings; audio feeds of Senate proceedings;
demand video that replays tape-recorded programmes on request;
and audio feeds of committee proceedings.
The Committee also used the opportunity to discuss
with Canadian Members and officials how savings of some C$2 million
was realised through a partnership with CPAC (Cable Public Affairs
Channel), a consortium of Canadian cable television companies
now responsible to the satellite distribution of parliamentary
17 March 1999
Residence of the High Commissioner
Informal briefing meeting with the High Commissioner
The House of Commons
The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
(Chairman, Mr Peter Adams, MP).
18 March 1999
The House of Commons
Mr Louis Bard, Chief Information Officer, Information
Services Directorate, Ms Audrey O'Brien, Clerk Assistant, House
Proceedings, Ms Elaine Diguer, Chief, INet and Multimedia Services,
and Mr Jean Leduc, Manager of Operations, Broadcasting Services.
The CanadaUK Inter-Parliamentary Association
(Chairman, Mr Peter Milliken MP, Deputy Speaker).
19 MAY 1999
Office of BBC Parliament, 4 Millbank
Mr Nigel Charters, Managing Editor, BBC Parliament,
Mr Richard Rose, Managing Director, Millbank Studios, and Mrs
Mary Wimbury, Head of Public Relations, BBC News.