Happy anniversary to C-SPAN2, which began live TV coverage of the U.S. Senate 25 years ago Thursday.
On launch day — June 2, 1986 — C-SPAN2 was available in 6.7 million households. Today, the channel can be seen in more than 89 million households.
C-SPAN began live gavel-to-gavel coverage of the House in March 1979. More than seven years passed before the cable network’s sister channel, C-SPAN2, was launched and began Senate coverage. The delay was caused in part because of opposition from some senators.
On C-SPAN2’s first day, Sen. Robert Dole, Kansas Republican, was majority leader, and the late Sen. Robert Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, was minority leader. The late Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican, served then as the Senate’s president pro tempore.
C-SPAN3, which features uninterrupted live public affairs events, began in 2001.
The C-SPAN networks are a private, non-profit company, created in 1979 by the cable television industry to provide public access to the political process. C-SPAN receives no government funding, with operations funded by fees paid by cable and satellite affiliates who carry C-SPAN programming.
Below is a link to video of C-SPAN2’s first day: