March 19, 1979, was the first time a full House session was televised live
Even though the American public could buy television receivers as early as 1939, it took many decades before constituents could watch their Member of Congress live in action.
While television cameras were allowed into the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives for special events, such as the State of the Union or speeches by foreign dignitaries, March 19, 1979, marked the first time a full House session was televised live for the public.
Representative Al Gore Jr. (TN-6) was the first Member to give a speech during a live television broadcast of a session of Congress. “The marriage of this medium and of our open debate have the potential … to revitalize representative democracy," Gore said, in favor of the installed television cameras.
The experiment started months earlier when the House tested a closed-circuit camera system. Within a year, the House approved permanently establishing its own television and broadcasting system, now known as the House Recording Studio.
Initially, the House Recording Studio had six cameras and a dedicated space in the basement of the Capitol. Today, all the original cameras have been replaced with seven, high-definition cameras and the House Recording Studio's control room has expanded to a larger space.
It is a central resource for a variety of services, include normal recordings of floor proceedings and Committee hearings, post-production editing, and more. It is operated by the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer.