One of the victims of the General Assembly’s $220 million budget mitigation plan included a reduction in funding for the television network that covers state government.
Connecticut Network or CT-N, which is managed and operated by the Connecticut Public Affairs Network, had $700,000 cut from its $3.2 million state subsidy Tuesday.
The network is a not-for profit company that employs 46 people and is committed to strengthening civic engagement in Connecticut by providing comprehensive and unbiased educational programming and outreach on state government, civics and citizenship.
Pat Sheehan, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Public Affairs Network, said he and others who oversee CT-N are “well aware of the difficult funding challenges state officials face in the current economic climate we are in.’’
On the other hand, Sheehan, a well-known former TV anchorman, said: “We are committed in this digital age that we live in to maintaining a high-end, quality information providing system.”
There’s no indication that they will cease operations as a result of the funding cut.
“The whole project is a commitment to open government,’’ Sheehan continued, “and we have no indication that anyone in government wants to deter from that mission.’’
Sheehan added that he doesn’t believe the funding cutback will, at least for now, impact the network’s day-to-day operations.
In the meantime, advocates for coverage of state government are exploring other funding options beyond state funding.
Sheehan pointed out that it was just last week that the he General Administration and Elections Committee approved a bill that would expand television coverage of state government.
The bill to create a State Civic Network was approved 8-6, along party lines.
It would allow a nonprofit organization stream up to 15 live events at the same time rather than the two currently possible on CT-N. It would also ensure that every legislative hearing, Supreme Court case, appellate court oral argument and most executive branch meetings would be shown as they take place, according to supporters of the bill.
Paul Giguere, president of the Connecticut Network, which currently holds the contract to broadcast state government said the money to support the network would come from cable subscribers. It no longer would have to rely on funding from the state budget.
Sheehan said, “We will continue to explore any and all funding options for governmental reporting. But our commitment to such reporting remains as strong as it has ever been.’’