Citizens in forty-five states this year had the opportunity to see or listen to their legislatures in action, either through cable TV, public broadcasting stations, or webcasts. Forty states offer audio or video coverage of floor proceedings, 22 states cover at least some committee hearings on the Web, and 28 states and the District of Columbia provide television broadcasts.
States continue to enhance and expand on this coverage--this year, New York began to broadcast Assembly and Senate sessions on cable television (in addition to webcasts of sessions); and Indiana recently added video webcasts, along with Ways and Means Committee coverage. New Mexico this year approved legislation and appropriations to begin offering webcasts of the legislature for the first time next year.
For those who don't want to be tied to their desktop computer, state legislatures are starting to offer podcasts of proceedings. Washington's TVW is offering gavel–to-gavel podcasts, and the Minnesota House is offering committee hearing podcasts. Wisconsin offers podcasts that explain various aspects of the legislative process in the state, and several other states have podcasts of speeches or coverage of other legislative events.
Compared to other branches of government, legislatures lead in providing citizens a look at the process. Courts offer webcasts of oral arguments and other proceedings from state and local courts in only about 17 states. Executive branch coverage is usually limited to governors' speeches and coverage of a few agency public hearings.
Of course, C-SPAN began it all back in 1979, with cable television gavel-to-gavel coverage of Congress. CSPAN now also offers webcasts and podcasts. Other countries are beginning to webcast parliamentary proceedings.