Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Majority Leader Ronald Canestrari and Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb today announced the approval of a concurrent resolution to create an advisory board to oversee the expansion of the statewide Legislative TV Channel.
"When I became speaker, at a time when neither house's deliberations were televised, I set out to establish C-SPAN-like coverage of state government," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "For more than two decades, the Assembly has led the way, in a bipartisan effort, to bring about live, unedited, gavel-to-gavel television coverage of the Legislature's proceedings."
"With this announcement, the Assembly is not only another step closer to creating the C-SPAN model here in New York, but we are also building on our longstanding commitment to providing greater transparency and openness in state government," Silver said.
The resolution (C.787) calls on a bipartisan advisory board to review the current channel's coverage of the Assembly and Senate deliberations and how its programming could be expanded to include televising the other branches of state government. The board also would examine the logistical, technical and organizational challenges of establishing a full, freestanding channel that broadcasts state government-related programming.
"Passage of this bipartisan resolution reaffirms the Assembly's pledge to expand the Legislative TV Channel to beyond just broadcasting the Legislature's legislative sessions. As chair of the Assembly Task Force on Televising the Assembly, I look forward to working with my Assembly and Senate colleagues to determine how we can provide a broad range of state government programming to the public," said Canestrari (D-Cohoes).
"Expanding televised coverage of state government is an idea whose time has come, as it will empower more New Yorkers by enhancing their real-time access to the legislative process and ability to join in the discussion of important public policies impacting their lives. All across New York, there is a genuine hunger for more information on what state government does and how it operates. The type of increased coverage called for in the bipartisan resolution I sponsored addresses the need to better connect the people to their government - and ensure policymakers remain accountable to those they serve," said Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua).
The speaker noted that while the Assembly awaits concurrent action in the Senate to create the bi-cameral advisory board, Assembly members will begin to meet in the coming weeks to advance this important issue and move closer to achieving the Assembly's goal of establishing a channel that is exclusively focused on state government.
The Assembly has long advocated for the televising of state government proceedings. In the 1980s, it provided strong support for the existing NY-SCAN Channel, which had broadcast programming of legislative events to the Capital Region. After NY-SCAN was discontinued, the Assembly approved legislation creating a statewide channel in 1993.
Under Speaker Silver's leadership, the Assembly began broadcasting a limited number of its sessions across the state in 2001; webcasting sessions on the Internet in 2002; and transmitting the Assembly's deliberations by satellite to a statewide cable TV audience on the 24-hour, dedicated Legislative TV Channel in 2006.
"Over the years, we overcame many technical and institutional obstacles to establish today's Legislative TV Channel. With that same sense of purpose and determination, I'm confident that both houses will be successful in providing more televised coverage of state government to the public. Not only does the Assembly want more programming about the legislature's public hearings and committee meetings, but we also want the state channel to include more coverage of the rest of state government," said Silver.