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One casualty of the state budget fight

This legislative session’s state budget season was gut-wrenching in its length and, of course, its need to deal with ever-diminishing resources. In the final analysis, Northwest Corner towns came out of it with better support than expected and planned for. That gives some relief to town coffers and taxpayers.

One part of the services provided by the General Assembly to their constituents did not fare as well, but should have. Not all our readers likely have taken advantage of the opportunity to watch the inner workings of the three branches of their state government on CT-N, the cable news network operated by the nonpartisan Connecticut Public Affairs Network (CPAN) and owned by the state Legislature, but those who have will have noticed that it was looping previous programming over the first weekend of November. That’s because the negotiations between legislators and the board of CPAN unraveled after CT-N had its budget cut in half, and the cable network was feeling pressure from the Legislature to restrict its coverage to that endorsed by legislators and their staff.  See www.ctmirror.org and www.courant.com to read more on this.

The importance of empowering voters with first-hand knowledge of their state government’s operations cannot be overstated. Not only is CT-N available on cable, but it is also online and live streamed to be viewed on smartphones. Seeing the process by which decisions are made about spending taxpayer money and generally running Connecticut gives all in the state the tools they need to be responsible voters. 

The demise of CPAN as the operator of CT-N does not apparently mean the network will disappear, and the Legislature is now looking for alternatives for continuing operations. But if there is too little funding and questionable partisan independence, it will be a difficult sell for those who may run the next iteration of CT-N. This is a public service the Legislature provides in this state, but if they are unwilling or unable to continue that oversight responsibly, there are other alternatives for the channel. Other states have such resources controlled by universities or cable networks. It could be Connecticut now needs to look at other options to keep CT-N alive and viable.

The Northwest Corner is fortunate to have cameras from our local cable station, CATV 6, out often at area events as well as governmental meetings. If anyone is under the misconception that this is a simple process, they should think harder about that. It’s a service that is invaluable to all in the region in the information as well as the entertainment it provides. We should not take it for granted. 

To see what CATV 6 has posted for everything from town and governmental meetings, to church services, to fundraisers for nonprofits, to school events and on and on, go to https://vimeo.com/robinhoodradiotv. And if you see someone from CATV 6 making a video at an event or meeting you attend, think about thanking them for taking the time to do that. It’s an unedited and nonpartisan view of life in the Northwest Corner, which is something Connecticut is struggling to continue to provide at the state level.