You might be surprised to know that news coverage of California government agencies is actually covered in California statute. In 1965, two sections were added to California’s Government Code to address the topic.

It’s two code sections, Government Code Sections 6090 and 6091. 6090 contains a statement of legislative findings and intent, that it’s the public policy in the state, that public administrative agencies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business, and that the proceedings of public administrative agencies should be conducted openly in an orderly manner so that the public may remain informed. Section 6090 of the Government Code goes on to specify that in enacting this Chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the orderly use of broadcasting, telecasting, and photographic equipment and proceedings of public administrative agencies serves this public purpose.

Section 6091 specifically allows radio and television stations to broadcast and telecast the proceedings of all meetings of state, county, and municipal administrative agencies that are required by law to be open to the public. This does not include any adjudicative – i.e. enforcement or quasi-judicial – activities. The quasi-legislative, or rulemaking, activities, are generally open to the public and therefore subject to this Code section.

The law does require that cameras and other equipment used in these meetings or hearings must operate silently and that they don’t require any sort of ancillary lighting that could be disruptive at the agency public hearing. However, it allows the administrative agency to waive those silent operation requirements of the camera and other equipment if they so desire. The administrative agency’s presiding officer is able to require the pooling of equipment when that presiding officer deems it necessary in order to limit the number of pieces of equipment so that the presiding officer can conduct an orderly meeting or hearing.

The last piece of this Government Code section is that the law provides that meetings or hearings of these administrative agencies in which they consider the appointment, employment, or dismissal of a public officer or employee, or again, the adjudicative matter to hear appeals or complaints or charges brought against individuals are not subject to these provisions of the California Government Code.

You can read the transcript of the audio in today’s post here.