The legislative branch has C-SPAN. The judicial branch has Court TV. But the executive branch has no home on the television airwaves.
Until now. Coming soon to a television near you (if you're in the Washington area), channel 28, the "Information Super Station," will broadcast live feeds of federal news events across the capital city to government managers and government junkies alike.
Channel 28 will point its cameras at federal newsmakers for 24 hours of raw, uninterrupted executive branch action, from the White House to the Pentagon, from the Justice Department to the Securities and Exchange Commission. "We're bringing down the walls of government," says Susan Lindauer, the station's executive producer for political affairs, who is in charge of getting agencies on the program schedule. "Government executives will be able to watch the president, watch other agencies, and watch themselves."
Initially, viewers will only be able to pick up the station with regular television antennae. Cable companies are not required to carry low-power stations like channel 28. But the Information Super Station plans a push to get Washington-area cable and national satellite services to carry its programming. In addition, the station hopes to be carried on agencies' internal television systems.
The Information Super Station was founded by Dennis Dunbar, the owner of Wireless Data Systems, a videoconferencing and multi-media network provider. The station will take advantage of a fiber optic network running through Washington's Metro system for its broadcasts. This makes it easy for the channel to tap into federal buildings for the feeds and for federal buildings to tap into the channel, Lindauer says.
Lindauer says many agencies tape their proceedings already, so feeds will often be provided by the agencies themselves. The station will also use robotic cameras to cover events. For agencies not linked up to the station's network, a microwave truck will be used to carry live broadcasts.
At first the channel will be about federal agencies for federal agencies. But eventually, the station hopes to bring people throughout the country closer to the federal government, Lindauer says.
"We expect to be a positive force," she says. "We will encourage the public to claim ownership of the federal government."
Lindauer expects the station to debut in late February.