Media Mutt

Maine Public Broadcasting Plans Legislative Channel

by Al Diamon

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network is hoping to launch a special digital channel in early February devoted to live coverage of the state Legislature. MPBN president Mark Vogelzang is meeting with the network’s board of directors on Dec. 12 to get final approval for the project. He also plans to meet with the Legislative Council (the ten leaders of the House and Senate) later this month to get its OK.

Vogelzang emphasized that nothing can happen until legislative leadership approves the plan. “This is their decision and their rules,” he said. “Everything is dependent on their approval.”

The new programming will be broadcast on channel 10-4 and will also likely show up on many cable systems. It will feature live, unedited coverage of House and Senate sessions, press conferences and some committee hearings from about 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays. Repeats of the day’s activities will be shown in the evening. When both chambers are in session at the same time, one will be shown live and the other will be recorded for airing shortly afterwards.

Vogelzang said the new service will cost $250,000 to $300,000 for the first year, money he expects to raise through private donations and by reallocating some resources in the network’s television production budget.

Veteran reporter Mal Leary of the Capitol News Service has agreed to become the new network’s managing editor.

“We think this is a very important public service,” Vogelzang said. “This is the right time and the right place for MPBN to test out this pilot.”

Al Diamon can be emailed at

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