Thirty-three years after C-SPAN came into being, its creator and guiding light Brian Lamb is passing the baton for the remarkable nonprofit cable TV network to colleagues Rob Kennedy and Susan Swain, the New York Times reports. The service will announce tomorrow that Kennedy and Swain will formally take over as co-chief executives on April 1. The transition has been planned for some time and Lamb, who becomes executive chairman, will continue to host his interview program Q&A that airs Sunday nights. Lamb was a reporter covering the communications industry when he started proposing the concept to operators of then-new cable systems across the U.S. Industry executive Robert Rosencrans presented Lamb a $25,000 check to get started. The Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network predates CNN and ESPN as well as most other cable networks. C-SPAN — which was set up to cover proceedings of the House of Representatives, and its offspring C-SPAN2 (the Senate) and C-SPAN3 (other hearings and events) — foreshadowed the era of media in which the workings of government would become widely available on TV and the Internet. Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt, current chairman of the board that oversees C-SPAN, and fellow C-SPAN board member Comcast CEO Neil Smit said the transition has been planned for some time. Swain will oversee content and marketing, and Kennedy will oversee business. They will continue to simulcast government affairs on TV while also concentrating on new technologies. C-SPAN operates on a budget of roughly $60 million a year that comes from fees of about 6 cents per cable subscriber. C-Span sends crews to events and produces programs like Washington Journal, Book TV and American History TV. Nielsen doesn’t tabulateratings for C-SPAN because there is no advertising, but “it gets a lot of viewership,” Smit said based on info from cable boxes and focus groups. “People love their C-Span.”
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