Legislature could have new plan for CTN as early as next week

Legislature could have new plan for CTN as early as next week



The Office of Legislative Management hopes to have details as soon as Monday about its plan to once again broadcast legislative proceedings. 

Friday marks one week since the nonprofit Connecticut Public Affairs Network ended its coverage of the legislature, as well as the Executive and Judicial branches, amid a contract dispute with OLM. 

The Connecticut Network, which CPAN oversaw, remains on the air, but only shows reruns without a staff to broadcast activities at the Capitol. 

When asked about an update, James Tracy, executive directive of OLM, said Thursday that he hopes he can provide details as soon as Monday about how his agency will proceed. OLM is the nonpartisan agency that manages the day-to-day operations of the General Assembly at the discretion of legislative leaders. 

Open government advocates have voiced criticism of the legislature since CPAN made the decision to end its coverage. 

The Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information issued a statement Wednesday calling “the collapse of talks...deeply troubling and a huge setback for government openness.” 

The contract between OLM and CPAN ended Nov. 1, but the two sides reached a “per diem” agreement for CTN to continue coverage amid negotiations. CPAN notified OLM on Nov. 2, though, that it would be ending that agreement, and leaving the state without a broadcast vendor, the following day. 

CPAN said it had concerns about the terms of the new contract, which would remove editorial control from CTN and greatly reduce coverage of the Executive and Judicial branches. The two sides were locked in a stalemate for months when the legislature then cut funding as part of the budget it adopted in late October, further complicating talks. 

The contract initially allocated $2.4 million, down from the $2.7 million from last year, but the recently adopted budget cut that figure down to $1.6 million. 

Legislative leaders have said they want CTN to focus on covering the legislature, arguing that initially was its core function, and that the funding cut was in line with the vision of reduced coverage. 

CCFOI President Dan Klau said in the organization’s statement, though, that lawmakers are trying to use the budget to take control of CTN’s content. 

“Legislative leadership is using the state’s fiscal situation to disguise their true intentions — censoring what state residents can see by eliminating all coverage of the Executive and Judicial branches of government,” he said. 

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has also questioned lawmakers about their true intentions in cutting the funding for CTN, offering to find $400,000 in savings, with matches from the legislature and Judicial Branch, if the problem was truly budgetary.

He said in a letter to lawmakers last week that he and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman “are also troubled that matters of editorial liberty and coverage of events other than the legislature may have played a role in the failure to come to a new agreement.” 

msavino@record-journal.com

203-317-2266

Twitter: @reporter_savino


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