Little C-SPANs Sprout Up Across Nation

Local public affairs networks seek recognition, funding.


Upstart state public affairs TV stations, modeled after C-SPAN, are lobbying Washington for a little respect and maybe a tiny slice of the federal budget pie. Working under the umbrella group, National Association of Public Affairs Networks, the 20 state networks are eager to be recognized in the Federal Communications Commission's pending report on the future of media, possibly under a "civic media" category. They've already picked up some congressional support and for a simple reason: with fewer reporters covering state government due to news industry cutbacks, advocates of transparency think it's a good idea to at least put cameras à la C-SPAN in state legislative chambers and committee rooms. But unlike C-SPAN, the locals have few sources of private funding. Federal support could also help develop public affairs cable stations in the 30 states without them. "We just want to make sure we're included in the FCC report," says Chris Long, head of WisconsinEye, Wisconsin's public affairs network.

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