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Nervous Senate Debuts on Television

From Times Wire Services

Like an actor with stage fright, the U.S. Senate took a nervous step Thursday into the age of television.

A battery of six remotely controlled television cameras panned across the chamber, focusing on senators speaking at their desks in the first televised debate in Senate history.

Television had been allowed in the Senate only once--for the 1974 swearing-in of Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller.

For the first month, the audience will be limited to a closed-circuit system in the Capitol complex. But on June 2, coverage will go public on C-SPAN, a cable television system. About six weeks later, the Senate will vote on whether to make coverage permanent.

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Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) took center stage Thursday and told his colleagues that the Senate was on its way to a “date with history.”

“Our experts tell me that the technical bugs are being worked out and that our picture is a good one,” Dole said. “I’m not sure about the debates, but at least we look good.”


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