C-Span’s silver anniversary

nbruce writes “My favorite TV program is Book-TV–a whole week-end just devoted to non-fiction.

“Back in 1979, Brian Lamb, the former editor of a media newsletter, was frustrated by the sound-bite coverage of government on the broadcast networks. So he began C-SPAN with a staff of four. Now the network employs 280 people. Its three 24-hour-a-day channels attract 34 million viewers a week. It has a satellite radio service along with 10 Web sites and, this month, a new book based on its signature “Booknotes” program. One out of five Americans tune into C-SPAN’s coverage of Congress at least once or twice a week, not to mention its news conferences, lectures, foreign news shows and archival tapes of Supreme Court arguments and Oval Office conversations.

All this material is produced on an annual budget of $40 million, less than the cost of airing a single TV sitcom. Every basic-cable subscriber pays a nickel a month for the network, which receives zero government funding.

Article at Wall Street Journal