Boehner rejects technology. Good for him.

In a minor story this week, Speaker John Boehner rejected CSPAN’s request to install robotic cameras in the House of Representatives.  In doing so, Boehner follows in the footsteps of previous Speakers – and makes the right decision.

CSPAN wanted the cameras to spice up their coverage of the US House – capturing wide shots of the arena and getting reaction shots from Members of Congress who aren’t speaking at a certain time.

If you want an example of what such a broadcast might look like, the Super Bowl kicks off in a few hours.  If Aaron Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger throws an interception, Fox’s cameras will capture them on the sideline, shaking their heads or talking to coaches.  If a kicker – whatever their names are – misses a field goal, you’ll see the typical lingering shot of them staring at the goalposts and shaking their heads, followed (or preceded) by a shot of the coach looking at the kick, preparing to raise his arms before dejectedly slumping his shoulders.  When a defensive player blows a coverage, you’ll see his coach glaring at him from the sideline.

Fox isn’t just broadcasting the game, they are telling a story.  It’s one reason why sports is interesting to watch, and CSPAN wants to do the same.

But if CSPAN is telling a story about Congressional debate, who gets to write it?  And why stop at jumping around during floor debates?  Why not give individual Representative theme music and bring in Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler to add commentary, WWE style?

The extra cameras that Boehner rejected would have allowed CSPAN to create their own filter of the coverage, instead of simply showing the debate.  Yes, it’s dull, but CSPAN isn’t supposed to be engaging all the time – it’s supposed to be a stream of raw information.

Happy Birthday for two TV revolutions

March 19 marks two big media birthdays.  Though both are cable television networks, they are significant for different reasons.

The elder is C-SPAN, which was created on this date in the great year of 1979C-SPAN made news this week by making its entire video archive available online, which is a natural extension of the network’s mission: to shine sunlight on the workings of the American government.

The younger is eight years old today: the YES Network, or Yankees Entertainment and Sports (which has an excellent website in addition to an excellent television network).  YES was born because the New York Yankees were unsatisfied with annual $70 million payments for their television rights from Madison Square Garden Network, another New York City-based regional sports network (or RSN).  The Yankees figured they could do better, and built their own television network to play their games and satisfy the content needs of rabid Yankee fans, who would actually watch the Yankeeography of Danny Tartabull.

When you’re the most famous sports franchise in the world, building your own media empire is much easier than if you’re a grassroots activist organization.  But the principal is the same whether you’re launching a YouTube channel or a cable channel: the Yankees knew their audience was out there, and they found their own path to that audience.