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State Government Coming To Cable TV

Get out the extra table leaf, Spokane - the state Supreme Court is coming to dinner.

TVW will debut Monday evening on CityCable 5, offering cable TV viewers a firsthand look at their state government in action.

“People have an inherent right to watch their government at work in an unedited, unvarnished fashion,” said Denny Heck, president of the Olympia-based programming.

TVW is designed to “provide gavel-to-gavel coverage” of all three branches of state government, said Heck, who served as chief of staff under former Gov. Booth Gardner.

Unlike national government coverage on C-SPAN, where the primary focus is on legislative action, TVW also will travel to the courtroom and to commission meetings, Heck said.

“There’s an enormously powerful pent-up desire in people to reconnect with their government,” Heck said. “We have an obligation to provide that.”

TVW, a private non-profit corporation, was formed in 1993 with public and private money. More than half of its $1.6 million budget comes from private donations while the rest comes from state grants.

Spokane’s CityCable 5 is the first government station to sign up for the service, which will be provided to the channel free of charge.

“I told (Heck), ‘If you can do this without any cost to the city or cable customers, we’ll do it,”’ said Glenn Lipsker, director of CityCable 5.

By the end of May, the programming should be available in about 600,000 homes across the state, including those with cable access in Seattle, Yakima, Walla Walla, Pullman and Ellensburg.

CityCable 5 will show about 50 hours of TVW programming a week between meetings and public service announcements, Lipsker said. C-SPAN no longer will be broadcast on the government-access channel.

Because the programming proposal has passed the state House but not the Senate, the first few weeks of programming won’t include legislative coverage, Heck said.

Monday’s first broadcast includes coverage of an oral argument made last month before the state Supreme Court regarding a death penalty case from Pierce County.

xxxx TV PROGRAMMING TVW programming on City Cable 5: Monday - immediately after the City Council meeting until 4 a.m. Tuesday - immediately after the County Commissioner meeting until 4 a.m. Wednesday - 2 - 8 p.m. Thursday - 2 - 9 p.m. Friday through Saturday - 9 p.m. - 4 a.m.

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