Capitol Alert

The California Channel is shutting down. Where will you get ‘gavel to gavel’ Capitol coverage?

The California state Capitol in Sacramento in June 2019. The California Channel, a cable-TV-backed public broadcast service that provided “live gavel to gavel coverage” of the state Legislature since the early 1990s, will end operations this October.
The California state Capitol in Sacramento in June 2019. The California Channel, a cable-TV-backed public broadcast service that provided “live gavel to gavel coverage” of the state Legislature since the early 1990s, will end operations this October. rbyer@sacbee.com

The California Channel, a broadcast service that provides “gavel to gavel coverage” of the state Legislature, will end operations this October.

California Channel President John Hancock announced that its board of the directors voted this spring to shut down, as first reported by Capitol Morning Report in late June.

The channel airs live broadcasts and maintains an archive of California Legislature and Supreme Court proceedings. It was modeled after C-SPAN and began broadcasting in 1991, according to its website.

The upcoming closure was confirmed in a report Thursday by Capitol Weekly, a nonprofit online publication and “nonfiscal partner” of the California Channel.

Hancock told Capitol Weekly that the board decided the 2016 passage of Proposition 54, which mandated that the state Legislature make video of proceedings available to the public within 72 hours, “limited the need” for the channel.

As a result, the Legislature broadcasts its hearings on its own websites.

Today, the California Channel website still carries an extensive video archive of state Senate and Assembly floor sessions, as well as public committee meetings.

In addition to live webcasting, the California Channel has been carried in Sacramento markets by Comcast.

The channel is funded by the California Cable and Telecommunications Association, which includes Comcast and dozens of other cable communications companies and networks such as BBC America and The History Channel. The California Channel receives no state funding, according to its website.

“The California Channel, like its model C-SPAN, is powerfully simple because of its unselfish display of completely unedited, unbiased legislative news,” the website’s “About” page continues. “So many people complain about the news media distorting reality to the right or the left, misusing sound bites and shaping quotes and content to their advantage. If you really want truth in government, then stop consuming the talk-show/tabloid television spin and settle in with the stoic California Channel.”

The board of directors for the California Channel includes representatives of Cox Communications, Comcast, Charter Communications, Inc. and the California Cable Television Association’s president, Carolyn McIntyre.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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