A new online network will livestream state legislative proceedings, board and commission meetings and other hearings and official events and will archive the coverage for 30 days, the director of the Arkansas Educational Television Network announced Monday at the state Capitol.
The launch of Arkansas Citizens Access Network -- which can be found at aetn.org/arcan -- will "begin a new era for government transparency," said AETN Executive Director Courtney Pledger.
"Our citizens will now have front-row seats to many government proceedings where they may have an interest but cannot physically attend," Pledger said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson praised the new venture as a convenient tool to provide more access to the community and one that will double as a teaching tool for the state's schoolchildren.
"They'll [teachers] say, 'Well let's just livestream today. Let's see what's going on at the state Capitol,'" Hutchinson said. "When they can see it, the students can say, 'Someday I'll be up there as well.'"
Pledger said in an interview after the meeting that she is working with her team and educators around the state to develop education initiatives to use in the classroom.
"There will be an announcement soon," Pledger said.
The new site will be operated and maintained by AETN within the existing budget "at no additional cost to taxpayers," Pledger said.
While many state agencies and the Legislature currently livestream their meetings, AR-CAN is a one-stop shop and also keeps the sessions on the site for 30 days after the live event.
"Until today, there has been no single, central location for Arkansas citizens to watch official proceedings online while learning about their government," Pledger said.
AETN crews will also attend and record to video many meetings, news conferences or other events that are not currently broadcast, Pledger said.
Today's State Board of Finance meeting set for 10 a.m. will be livestreamed for the first time thanks to the new programming.
"Due to the large number of meetings held each month by state agencies and boards, events deemed to have the most public interest will be given priority," Pledger said.
An internal editorial committee will use public input to decide on the events the production team will cover. The teams will strictly record the meeting and will not provide commentary, Pledger said after the meeting.
The livestreams are only offered online, but AETN may consider broadcasting the meetings in the future, Pledger said.
"We have created AR-CAN to provide unprecedented access to state government proceedings, as well as to grow the public's understanding of and interest in civics and public affairs," Pledger said. "At AETN, we believe the public is eager to learn more about how their government operates and that with increased transparency and knowledge comes increased confidence and trust, as well as strengthened civic engagement."
Metro on 02/05/2019