State office still hopes to run public affairs network

November 4, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The office that oversees Connecticut’s State Capitol complex is hoping to have the control room up and running Monday for the state’s cable TV and online public affairs network, despite a dispute with the independent vendor that’s been managing the operation.

Eric Connery, facilities engineer for the Office of Legislative Management, posted a letter Friday urging the vendor’s employees to fill out a job application form and possibly keep working at the Connecticut Television Network.

“We are working on both a short- and long-term solution,” Connery wrote. “There is a strong possibility that some of you can be part of that solution.”

The Connecticut Public Affairs Network, Inc., on Thursday informed the Office of Legislative Management it was terminating its per diem agreement to continue temporarily operating CT-N as of 5 p.m. Friday. The nonprofit entity cited recent, devastating state budget cuts and “encroachments on our editorial independence.”

William Bevacqua, vice president of administration and communications for the Connecticut Public Affairs Network, said CT-N’s previous operating budget was about $2.8 million. That figure was recently renegotiated to $2.4 million. But that amount was reduced further to $1.2 million in the two-year, $41.3 billion budget agreement reached by Democratic and Republican legislative leaders.

“This sudden 65 percent reduction is simply unworkable,” wrote Paul Giguere, the network’s president and CEO, in a letter to the Office of Legislative Management. He said the cut is particularly difficult given the financial losses the network suffered when the Old State House temporary closed due to state budget issues. Connecticut Public Affairs Network provides educational programming at the historic downtown Hartford site.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday offered to find $400,000 in additional state funding from executive branch agencies to help save the network, keeping it independent. He urged the legislative and judicial branches to come up with funds as well, to collectively find a way “to balance the budget without eliminating video coverage and archiving of important state civic events, including legislative sessions, committee meetings, public hearings, bond and commission meetings, announcements from the executive branch, arguments before the State Supreme Court, and the like.”

CT-N and the Office of Legislative Management, which is overseen by the leaders of the General Assembly, have been at odds over whether the network should be covering just legislative matters or also events involving the other two branches of government.

Malloy said he’s “troubled that matters of editorial liberty and coverage of events other than the legislature” may have played a role in the failure of a new agreement being reached.

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