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News Coverage of Government Agencies

Public administrative agencies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business

By Chris Micheli, August 29, 2020 7:04 am

Government Code Title 1, Division 7, Chapter 1.5 deals with news coverage of governmental agencies. Chapter 1.5 was added to the law in 1965 and contains Sections 6090 and 6091. Section 6090 provides that “It is the public policy in this 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 and in an orderly manner so that the public may remain informed.”

In addition, Section 6090 specifies that, “In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the orderly use of broadcasting, telecasting and photographic equipment at proceedings of public administrative agencies serves this public purpose.”

Section 6091 specifically allows radio and television stations to broadcast and telecast, either directly or by means of transcriptions and film, the proceedings of all meetings and hearings, other than adjudicative proceedings, of all state, county, and municipal administrative agencies that are required by law to be open to the public. The law does require that cameras and other equipment used at the meeting or hearing must operate silently and not require auxiliary lighting.

Moreover, Section 6091 allows the administrative agency to waive the provisions requiring silent operation of the cameras and other equipment or excluding auxiliary lighting for cameras and other equipment. The agency’s presiding officer may require pooling of equipment when the officer deems it necessary to limit the number of pieces of equipment for the orderly conduct of the meeting.

Finally, the law provides that meetings of, or hearings by, administrative agencies to consider the appointment, employment or dismissal of a public officer or employee or to hear appeals by or complaints or charges brought against an officer or employee are not be subject to these provisions.

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