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Historical Highlights

The First Live Radio Broadcast of House Floor Proceedings

June 12, 1978
The First Live Radio Broadcast of House Floor Proceedings Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives,
About this object
Representative Jim Wright of Texas served 18 terms in the House of Representatives, eventually becoming Speaker of the House in the 100th Congress (1987–1989).
On this date, the first live radio broadcast of the proceedings on the House Floor transpired. “This is an historic occasion,” Albert Gore, Jr., of Tennessee remarked. “Our action today, opening floor debates to regular, continuous coverage by the broadcast media, will give the American people the chance to hear for themselves exactly what is said here in this Chamber.” Due to a change in House rules that paved the way for radio and television coverage in the chamber, the public had the ability to hear a live, five-minute radio broadcast of the floor proceedings. Only Associated Press Radio opted to use the House-controlled feed for a live broadcast—other media outlets aired taped segments of the historic event. Sixteen Members were present for the opening gavel of the afternoon session presided over by then Majority Leader  Jim Wright of Texas. During the legislative day, the House debated a resolution condemning the Ugandan government for alleged violations of human rights, legislation to appropriate money for the Department of Transportation, and a bill to increase funding for the Toxic Substances Control Act. "The House of Representatives tiptoed into the electronic age,” the New York Times reported after the conclusion of the experimental radio broadcast.

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Beginning in 1844, electronic technology fashioned an information transformation in Congress. The telegraph, telephone, radio, television, and computer revolutionized the way information was disseminated from the halls of the House of Representatives.

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