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DOLE WANTS GREATER COVERAGE BY TV OF CONGRESSIONAL DEBATE

SHARE DOLE WANTS GREATER COVERAGE BY TV OF CONGRESSIONAL DEBATE

Congress should be opened to greater television coverage, possibly with cameras operated by news organizations, incoming Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole says.

"I want to do what I can to increase public access to Congress," the Kansas Republican said in a letter Tuesday to Brian Lamb, head of the C-Span public affairs cable channel. "Improvements can clearly be made."Last month, Lamb asked Dole and incoming House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., to improve TV access to floor proceedings and committee hearings. C-Span now televises the floor action live.

Lamb said Tuesday that both GOP leaders replied positively, but a major outstanding issue is whether news organizations can gain control of cameras that cover the House and Senate chambers.

"The big, big question is whether they will allow outsiders to control those cameras so we get a true journalistic view of the proceedings," Lamb said.

Dole said he would look into formation of a "bipartisan Senate working group" to examine that question, which he called "worthy of serious consideration."

The cameras now are operated by congressional employees and the feed is provided to C-Span and others. The focus is almost always on the person speaking, with no reaction shots or views of the rest of the chamber.

Dole said he would suggest that the Senate Rules Committee consult with C-Span and network news officials to "consider appropriate changes to the procedures determining camera coverage of floor activity, with an eye toward making the coverage as complete as possible."

A similar House task force is being formed to examine whether outsiders should control the cameras.