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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date: August 20, 2002
Contact: Terry Martin

Blagojevich and Ryan Agree ?Illinois Channel is a good idea

Springfield. --The two major party candidates for governor, Republican Attorney General Jim Ryan and Democratic Congressman Rod Blagojevich are now both officially on record as supporting the Illinois Channel. Modeled after C-SPAN, the Illinois Channel is an independent, nonpartisan corporation formed to provide televised coverage of Illinois state government and other public affairs events.

“I fully support the effort to establish the Illinois Channel. As a member of the U.S. House, I know how effective C-SPAN’s coverage of Congress is in allowing citizens to follow the federal government. We can and should do the same thing here in Illinois to open state government and give people full access to the issues that affect their families and their communities,?said Congressman Rod Blagojevich .

Attorney General Jim Ryan said, “Last January, Senator Hawkinson and I included establishing the Illinois Channel as one of our nine points to restore fiscal and ethical discipline to Illinois government, and we reaffirm that support today. We look to transform the culture of state government to make it more transparent, and more accountable. The Illinois Channel will be a very visible way to demonstrate that commitment to Illinois citizens.?

Terry Martin, Executive Director of the Illinois Channel, said, "This is tremendous news and shows that open government is not a partisan issue. The support for the Illinois Channel from both Attorney General Jim Ryan and Congressman Rod Blagojevich means that whichever candidate is elected in November, Illinois will have a governor, who supports bringing televised coverage of state government to the family rooms, classrooms and board rooms across the state."

Martin added, "Illinois citizens deserve a seat at the table as public policy that directly impacts their lives is debated, deliberated and discussed. But this is not just a benefit to Illinois citizens. Illinois public officials should not have to communicate complex public policy through sound bites. The Illinois Channel will provide them a direct conduit to voters."

The University of Illinois at Springfield is overseeing the effort to launch the Illinois Channel but will not operate it. After the release of a well researched business plan last year, the channel is presently conducting a pilot phase of its operations. Each week, the Illinois Channel provides one to two hours of unedited, public affairs programming to 210,000 cable homes in Champaign, Urbana, Rockford, Freeport, Belvidere and Springfield. Plans call for distribution of Illinois Channel programming to increase in the weeks and months ahead. Additional information on distribution, and program offerings can be found on the Illinois Channel website, www.illinoischannel.org .

Following a year-long pilot phase, development plans call for the Illinois Channel to have an annual operating budget estimated at $3,000,000 a year. It would be funded primarily by the state legislature, with additional funding being provided through corporate giving and foundations. The funding would allow the Illinois Channel to provide live and taped public affairs programs to communities throughout the state via satellite.

Martin says some 20 states already provide unedited televised coverage of their state government to their citizens.