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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date: January 26, 2000
Contact: Cheryl D. Peck


UIS launches planning for public affairs television network

     SPRINGFIELD - The University of Illinois at Springfield announced today the beginning of a study that could lead to development of a statewide public affairs television network focusing on Illinois government, politics, and public policy issues.

     "For the past 20 years, C-SPAN has allowed citizens throughout the nation to follow the debates in the U.S. House and Senate. We believe the citizens of Illinois deserve the same," said UIS Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn. "Unedited, nonpartisan, televised coverage of Illinois state government and public affairs would be beneficial to Illinoisans throughout the state."

     An advisory board, chaired by Chancellor Lynn, will include representatives of all three branches of state government, business, labor, media, good government groups, and universities. Among those serving on the board are former Governor Jim Edgar and former U.S. Senator Paul Simon.

     In accepting the invitation to join the advisory board, Governor Edgar said, "At the same time that state government has grown larger and exerts more influence in our lives, media coverage of state government has declined. If we are to maintain good government, we need to make sure citizens have greater access to the important issues and policies affecting their everyday lives."

     "An informed citizenry is vital to good public policy," said Senator Simon. "Establishing a C-SPAN type television network in Illinois would substantially increase citizens?understanding of their government and allow them to participate accordingly."

     The study will examine the experiences of the 19 other states that have already established public affairs television networks and assess start-up requirements in Illinois. Analysis of the start-up requirements for the network will focus on seven areas: operations and organization, programming, audience development, production, transmission, distribution, and funding. At the conclusion of the study, a final report with recommendations will be prepared by the project and presented to the governor, legislative leaders, and the citizens of Illinois.

     States with existing public affairs television networks are Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington (see attached description of each state’s coverage).

     Terrence J. Martin, a veteran broadcaster who worked at C-SPAN on the Congressional coverage team, has been named project director. More recently, Martin was capital bureau chief for WAND-TV (Decatur). Co-project director is Jo Warfield, director of the UIS Television Office, and Charles Wheeler, director of UIS?Public Affairs Reporting program, will serve as a project adviser.

     The study is being funded by two foundation grants received by the University of Illinois at Springfield. Totaling almost $450,000, the grants obtained by UIS?Institute for Public Affairs, are $396,000 from The Joyce Foundation and $50,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

     The Institute for Public Affairs is a research and public service arm of UIS. It addresses issues of public policy, promotes governmental effectiveness, and engages in citizen education, with an emphasis on state government.

     The Illinois Broadcasters Association, the Illinois News Broadcasters Association, and the Illinois Public Broadcasting Council have endorsed the planning study.

     For more information, visit the project website at http://www.uis.edu/illinoischannel.