Sky News launches A-SPAN

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Sky News, Foxtel and Austar announced today that they will be launching a new network, A-SPAN, modelled on the US C-SPAN, which broadcasts live, unedited feeds of the US Congress.

The network will launch on January 20 broadcasting the inauguration of US President-Elect Barack Obama. In addition to broadcasting the Australian Parliament, A-SPAN apparently also plans to broadcast question time sessions from the Parliaments of NSW, Victoria and Queensland, as well as broadcasts from the NZ Parliament and the UK House of Commons.

Apparently it will be affiliated with C-SPAN, and will broadcast some of C-SPAN’s content on A-SPAN. Apparently, in addition there will be broadcasts of the Australian Parliament on C-SPAN (in the middle of the night when US members of Congress are sleeping), which is a fascinating idea.

It’s a bit unclear how all of this can be screened in only 24 hours a day. After all, C-SPAN is made up of three channels in addition to C-SPAN radio, but it’s still sure to be very interesting to see.

In addition to being part of the basic package of both Foxtel and Austar, it seems that A-SPAN will also be available online and digital free-to-air television.

It’s also a rare example of commercial media in Australia making a decision that isn’t simply driven by ratings, which is fantastic.

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