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UIS Press Release March 29, 2000
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date: March 29, 2000
Contact: Cheryl D. Peck

Advisory board formed for Illinois Channel planning study

     SPRINGFIELD - An advisory board chaired by University of Illinois at Springfield Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn has been formed to help conduct a planning study to establish a statewide public affairs television network, tentatively called the Illinois Channel, focusing on Illinois government, politics, and public policy issues.

     Former Governor Jim Edgar and former U.S. Senator Paul Simon will serve as vice chairs of the board, which will meet for the first time this evening at UIS. Present at the meeting will be representatives from all three branches of state government, business, labor, media, good government groups, and universities who have agreed to serve on the board (see attached list).

     "The concept for a public affairs television network for Illinois, modeled after C-SPAN, is rooted in the fundamental belief that people have an inherent right to see their government at work," said Lynn. "I am pleased that UIS has attracted the expertise of such an impressive list of people to serve on the board, who will bring many different perspectives to the planning."

     One of C-SPAN's original employees will speak to the board this evening about "Starting a Statewide Public Affairs Television Channel." Brian Lockman, president and chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Cable Network since February, served more than 10 years as C-SPAN's vice president of operations (see attached profile).

     In accepting the invitation to serve as a board vice chair, 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."

     Edgar will speak briefly to the board this evening, but Simon will not be able to be present. In remarks taped for the occasion, Simon said, in part, " This Illinois Channel will give us the chance to become better informed, and I'm for the name, I'm for the activity, and I'm for informing citizens so we can make the kind of sensible decisions that we should make in a democracy."

The planning study is being conducted by the Institute for Public Affairs at UIS. Terrence Martin, a former member of C-SPAN's Congressional coverage unit, is project director. Co-project director is Jo Warfield, director of the UIS Television Office. Charles Wheeler, professor of public affairs reporting and UIS government relations officer, is a project advisor.

     Analysis of the start-up requirements for the Illinois Channel 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.

     The study is being funded by two foundation grants received by UIS. 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.

     For more information, visit the project website at