C-SPAN Denied Permission To Cover Byrd Memorial Service

The Senate is not allowing C-SPAN to cover the memorial service of Senator Robert Byrd taking place today in the Senate Chamber:

As the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s coffin lies in repose on the Senate floor, C-SPAN has been refused permission to broadcast the event, causing members of the Radio-Television Correspondents Association to send a formal complaint to Senate Rules Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

In a letter sent to Schumer on Wednesday, Chad Pergram, a Fox News reporter and executive committee member on the correspondents association, requested that the Senate approve a resolution to allow the Senate’s television cameras to run in the Senate while Byrd’s body lies in repose for six hours today.

Senate cameras are typically allowed to run anytime the Senate is in session.

But Schumer rejected the request yesterday, much to the ire of reporters, due to Byrd’s familiy’s wishes to keep the ceremony untelevised.

Changing the policy would require a resolution passed by the Senate.

“The policy not to permit such coverage in the Senate Chamber is in accordance to the standing rules of the Senate and the Rules for Regulation of the Senate Wing of the United States Capitol and Senate Office Buildings,” Schumer replied in a letter Thursday night.

The standstill is creating a headache for television stations around the country that draw their congressional footage from the cameras.

Members of the executive committee say lawmakers must question whether the wishes of Byrd’s family members should overtake the right of the taxpayers, who pay for the Senate-owned television cameras, to view the ceremony honoring Byrd today.

Seriously ? Is it really a matter of national interest for the public to see a memorial service ?

I’m typically a person who believes in as much openness as possible, but I don’t see any problem at all with letting this be a private matter.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook