Comcast's Smit takes top C-SPAN board seat

Even in this era of streamers, zines and social media postings, the public-interest C-SPAN cable channels can still aggregate a pretty big audience with live video of Washington hearings, particularly when they capture testy exchanges between corporate titans and federal lawmakers.

Just such a thing happened on Tuesday when about 3 million people watched on C-SPAN's Facebook page the barbed back-and-forth between Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf and members of Senate Banking Committee over the bank's alleged deceit of its customers, C-SPAN spokesman Peter Kiley said on Wednesday.

Formed as cooperative by the cable companies to air Washington hearings and speeches, C-SPAN is run as a non-profit with a board comprising top cable executives who rotate on and off an executive committee.

Comcast Corp.'s Neil Smit now heads the executive committee as his appointment was announced on Tuesday, the same day as Stumpf testified to the banking committee.

C-SPAN spokesman Peter Kiley said the public-interest media organization is excited to have an executive from the nation's largest cable-TV operator in such an important position. "We are looking at what [Comcast is] doing with X1 and seeing what content we can make available to our viewers," he said.

Based on the organization's bylaws, the C-SPAN board has no say in editorial decisions on what content to air on C-SPAN, C-SPAN2 and C-SPAN3, Kiley said. Smit has agreed to a one-year term but he could serve longer, he added.

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