Associated Press
November 28, 2000

High Court: Will Audio Tape Session

By David Bauder

New York (AP) -- The Supreme Court, after rejecting a request to allow television coverage of Friday's arguments in the Florida election case, said Tuesday it would quickly make an audio tape available.

Distribution of an audio tape, which would not be available until after the court session is over, is believed to be unprecedented for the nation's highest court.

Television networks have been pleading with the court to relax its longstanding rule prohibiting TV coverage of their sessions for the historic presidential election arguments.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist rejected that idea Monday in a letter to C-SPAN Chairman Brian Lamb. Other networks, including ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC, had been urging him to reconsider.

The court made no promise of exactly when the tape would be made available, only that it would come Friday ''on an expedited basis.''

C-SPAN will air the tape in its entirety as soon as it is available, supplementing it with pictures or drawings of the Supreme Court justices and lawyers involved in the case, said Susan Swain, the network's executive vice president.

''It's terrific they've made a bit of movement on this,'' Swain said. ''But it's impossible to understand what difference it would make, if we can hear it as soon as it ends, to have seen it as it was happening.''

Swain said C-SPAN had hoped the experience of the Florida State Supreme Court's televised arguments would have persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court that there was nothing to be frightened about.

''We're very pleased and consider it an historic decision,'' said Jeffrey Schneider, spokesman for ABC News. The network plans to use the tape on ''World News Tonight'' and may do a special report earlier if events warrant, he said.

The court said it would provide a tape to a pool of TV networks so that it could be fed to all of them simultaneously.

A written transcript of the argument will also be made available quickly on Friday, to be posted on the court's Web site, according to Rehnquist.

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