New MPBN channel will take viewers inside State Legislature

AUGUSTA — For the first time, the inner workings of the State Legislature will be easy to access for Mainers across the state.

That’s because Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) has been working to dedicate a new channel to broadcast the daily sessions of the House of Representatives and the Maine Senate.

The channel, dubbed the Maine Capitol Connection, would mirror C-SPAN, the private, nonprofit cable-based company that provides citizens with public access to the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C.

“We want something similar, but not identical, since C-SPAN is copyrighted” said Hank Schmelzer, a member of MPBN’s Board of Trustees.

MPBN viewers had shown an interest in a service similar to C-SPAN but for the Maine government, which had never been covered before, and MPBN ran with the idea.

Spokesman Cory Morrissey said, “Other media outlets have been pulling away from government coverage because of funding cuts, so we saw an opportunity and we decided it was worthwhile for our viewers.”

Funding for the channel will come primarily from MPBN’s 2013 operating budget. No money will be subsidized on any level by annual support from the state of Maine.

“We believed since we wanted to create this service, we should do it on our own to start,” Morrissey said.

If the channel becomes reliable and something viewers appreciate, Morrissey said MPBN might look for government funding in the future.

For more of the latest news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.

Amanda Greenberg

Former Ellsworth American reporter Amanda Greenberg joined the staff in October 2012 after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono. Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Amanda moved to Maine when she was nine.