C-SPAN comfortable in its financial future

10/23/09 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:


If you follow the U.S. government, you are probably familiar with the television station C-SPAN. It carries such programming as live coverage of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

A community relations representative of C-SPAN, Doug Hemmig, is in Tampa Bay this weekend for the Times Festival of Reading and to promote their student documentary competition. Hemmig spoke with WMNF today.

Doug Hemmig: “C-SPAN is a private non-profit network designed to give you gavel-to-gavel coverage of your national government, letting you see what goes on in Washington, D.C., in a neutral, unfiltered, unedited way.”

WMNF: "And C-SPAN has no commercials. How does it get its funding?"

Hemmig: “It gets its funding—and that’s probably the most frequently asked question: Where does C-SPAN get its money from since we don’t have commercials—we are actually funded by the cable and satellite industry as a whole. It’s a public service. They all get together and if you get cable or satellite, you’re funding C-SPAN.”

WMNF: What is the outlook like in the future for C-SPAN?"

Hemmig: “You know what? We’re a very lean organization to begin with. We have just over 262 employees, but we’re available in 92 million homes. So we’re doing a lot with what we have right now, different media platforms. It looks good. It’s a commitment by the industry to provide this public service, so it looks good despite the tough times.”

WMNF: "So you’re in the area this weekend because of the Times Festival of Reading and also to promote this documentary competition you have. Tell our listeners about that."

Hemmig: “Sure, I was just up the street at Blake High School earlier today talking about our C-SPAN Student Cam Documentary Contest. It’s a national contest in which students can get their voices heard by producing a six to eight minute video looking at two things: One, “What is our nation’s greatest strength?” or they can phrase it by “What is our nation’s biggest challenge?” So they produce a video looking at these two issues, using a little bit of C-SPAN video, six to eight minutes, and looking at all points of view. So they do that, they’re able to submit the documentary and they’re able to win cash prizes.”

WMNF: "And if a student is interested in participating, where can they find out more, and what are the qualifications?"

Hemmig: “Sure, they can go to studentcam.org or cspan.org and get to it through our main page. It has all the rules. They can even look at previous contest winners to get ideas. And being here in the Tampa area today, I’ve found that the students are very excited and very engaged in the issues that face our country today. So, I’m looking forward to seeing some contestants from the area.”

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