Public service channel C-SPAN sent a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Tuesday, asking him to allow the government affairs network’s cameras free rein of the House Chamber.
C-SPAN CEO Susan Swain asked McCarthy for permission to “cover floor proceedings on behalf of our network and all Congressionally-accredited news organizations.”
The request followed the network’s unprecedented coverage of the House’s four-day-long slog to elect McCarthy Speaker, before which there were no House rules officially in place in the 118th Congress, allowing C-SPAN to provide rare coverage of the House floor while lawmakers schmoozed and debated—and at least once even became physical.
C-SPAN is not rated by Nielsen, but it did see its viewership surge as the drama unfolded. It increased its viewership by 161% on Tuesday, January 3, Congress’ opening day, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Journal added that between just Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, viewership rose from 379,000 households to 957,000 households.
C-SPAN’s YouTube stream of Thursday’s proceedings had recorded 1.2 million views.
C-SPAN has also acquired at least a few supporters in Congress for its free-roaming cameras. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) said he plans to introduce legislation that would ensure that the full House chamber can continue to be broadcast to the American people.
On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)—a so-called “Never Kevin” who was often at the center of the Speakership drama—introduced his own amendment to the House rules on Tuesday to allow C-SPAN to independently operate cameras on the House floor during regular proceedings.
And House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) told CNN, “I think that’d be great. I think it’s great that the public’s going to be able to see more about the way the government works.”
No word yet on a response from McCarthy.