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Historical Highlights

The Introduction of Televised House Proceedings

March 15, 1977
The Introduction of Televised House Proceedings Image courtesy of the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives For years, television cameras had covered special events in the House Chamber such as State of the Union Addresses and speeches by foreign dignitaries. It was not until the late 1970s, however, that sufficient support existed for live televised coverage of House Floor debate.
On this date, the House began a three-month closed-circuit testing period of televised House Floor proceedings. Post-Watergate reforms and a new spirit of openness and accountability in government provided television supporters the momentum necessary to ensure the live telecasting of legislative debates. Within a year, the House passed measures to approve and fund the establishment of its own television system—thereby answering the critical question of who would control broadcasts. Almost two years to the day later, on March 19, 1979, public television and the C-SPAN network tapped into the House television system for live broadcasts of the floor proceedings. Since that time, millions of viewers at home and across the globe have tuned in to watch debate in the chamber.

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