Government transparency may be one of the casualties of the bipartisan budget deal approved by the General Assembly. The public affairs television network CT-N took a budget hit that may force the network off the air as early as Wednesday when its current contract expires.
For 18 years CT-N's cameras have chronicled state government at work - press conferences, Connecticut Supreme Court proceedings, hearings, committee meetings, as well as sessions of the state House and Senate.
“That was really why we created CT-N in the first place - to give people the opportunity to see for themselves how this process works,” said Paul Giguere, CEO of CT-N, “To be able to watch it for themselves, make up their own mind, but take that extra step to provide as much context as possible.”
Giguere said that transparent look at government came into question earlier this year when the General Assembly, which in essence owns the network, created a wrinkle in the way CT-N functions. Lawmakers wanted editorial control of the network, and their proposed contract with CT-N contained new restrictions on what the network would be allowed to cover.
“We believe in the mission of CT-N. We believe that citizens have the right to watch their government in action,” Giguere said. “And that those that are the subject of those hearings should not be the people that are pointing the cameras.”
And that's exactly what the network was facing as they hammered out a new contract with the Office of Legislative Management. Giguere said his contract proposal was more in line with CT-N's mission, keeping the legislature at arm's length when it comes to editorial control. But now, after five months of negotiations, that contract is null and void.
The General Assembly voted last week on a bipartisan budget deal that cuts $1.2 million from CT-N's $2.8 million budget. The 65 percent cut may mean the end of the network.
Time is of the essence. CT-N officials are hoping to have a new agreement with the Office of Legislative Management before midnight Tuesday. Talks are ongoing. Paul Giguere said no matter what happens, one thing is for sure.
“The CT-N on Wednesday is going to look dramatically different than the CT-N on Tuesday.”