Commentary

Cameras On The Supremes: Can I Watch With Aereo?

It’s an insatiable media information market. Media consumers are in need of  information, especially in real or near-real time. Though there have been efforts in the past to have TV cameras cover Supreme Court arguments, a new coalition of media groups, journalist  organizations and others is now on the case.

Transparency is a key word in a digital age where everyone  wants more information, data, and analysis as soon as possible. More data seemingly includes the involvement of more governmental organizations. If the National Security Agency wants to scope out our electronic personal data, shouldn’t we at least get to see the Supremes muse on their decisions?

Audio presentations of Supreme Court proceedings have existed since 1995 -- but it takes a week to access them. So having cameras in the Supreme Court might not mean actual live TV.

In any case, what would the cameras actually deliver? Perhaps not the most stellar and dramatic content. Perhaps C-Span's coverage of other deliberations offers some clues of what it would be like.

Many would say that’s not the point; provide unfiltered video, and consumers can then decide. This would provide more open government -- and many state courts already allow cameras in their courtrooms.

Pushing the cause much more than has been done before, the new coalition is backed by a TV advertising campaign, with a commercial airing nearly 300 times through mid-March. The campaign is financed by a charitable foundation called the New Venture Fund.

If cameras are indeed to come to the Court, it couldn't happen soon enough. In a few weeks, the Supreme Court will hear the case of the broadcast networks versus Aereo -- the renegade Internet-delivered over-the-top TV service.

Arguing against video in the court, some justices worry about “playing to the cameras." Does that mean showing emotion -- or something else? Don’t worry, viewers will be able to  figure it out. The downside is that viewers usually need brevity -- like a one-minute conclusion to a crime procedural drama.

The rub is that not all issues can be simplified --  like the Affordable Care Act. TV doesn’t always lend itself to complicated analysis of new stories -- especially ones that occur in real time, with real-life consequences.
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