For the first time since it began in 1999, the future is uncertain for CT-N, the public affairs network that covers the Connecticut legislature and government.
In the new state budget signed last week by Governor Malloy, lawmakers slashed CT-N’s funding from $3.2 million to $1.6 million. The state legislature also did not renew its contract with the non-profit that runs CT-N.
Former CT-N Vice President of Administration William Bevacqua accuses lawmakers of wanting to use CT-N to promote their personal agenda rather than the public good. He says that contract renewal negotiations fell apart after lawmakers insisted on editorial restrictions on the network.
“A presumption that the legislative branch, not only proceedings but also press conferences of the leadership, was going to take precedence over any other type of programing and included the elimination of educational and contextual programing, it’s very hard not to connect the dots and see that the cut was using economics to really cement the restrictions they were trying to impose anyway.
We ran it for as long as we did because we had a commitment to performing a transparency and accountability function, which starts with the premise that the elected leader at whom the cameras are pointed should not be deciding where the cameras point.”
On Friday Governor Dannel Malloy tried to salvage the situation by offering $400,000 from the executive branch to keep the service going. He also urged the judicial and legislative branches of government to do the same.
In the meantime, Bevacqua says it appears that the Office of Legislative Management that oversees CT-N has begun to make moves to run the service by itself.