Since 1979, C-SPAN, the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, has been a constant comrade on the tour through the tv channels, generally been taken for granted as a public service - which it is. Cable providers have been kicking in cents per subscriber for decades to bring their customers policy conversations, book recommendations, and an unfettered look at legislature.
As a majority of FCC complaints regarding the network released earlier this year show, it’s a service people would like to see extended and free of abuse … not unlike our democracy itself.
As always, there are the usual concerns regarding language, obviously a result of the lack of delay, screening of callers, and the enthusiasm that some people can’t resist bringing to the democratic process …
which helps bring some of that live, unfiltered flavor to the FCC complaints themselves.
But the majority of the complaints, of which there are only about a dozen, deal not with the actions of the channel itself. Instead they refer to the frustrations of inadequate access to the service C-SPAN provides, and the inappropriate editing of that footage by another news network.
Multiple complaints refer to an incident in which a Fox affiliate in Baltimore edited protesters in a way that suggests they are advocating the murders of police, an unfair and misleading characterization.
They even go so far as to suggest that science should be used to battle Fox’s misrepresentation, revealing true cost of the network’s misdeeds.
As we saw in the response to the presidential debates, people often just want access to the goings-on of their officials, free of the strictures imposed by funding …
or exclusive access filtered through a few…
and are willing to go through hoops of the FCC’s complaint system, regardless of how likely it seems that they will be heard against the frustration of cable news media.
But, as the FCC will often note, though there’s often little that they can do, they nevertheless attempt to track the trends they hear about.
Though faith in informed citizenry may be shaken and context may be removed, don’t forget that, at the very least, the FCC is just waiting to hear just how disappointed you are.
Image via Wikimedia Commons