Arkansas's statewide public television network is launching a new service that will live-stream meetings of the state legislature and governmental agencies.
At a press conference Monday, Courtney Pledger, executive director of the Arkansas Educational Television Network, joined Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) in announcing the online-only service, called the Arkansas Citizens Access Network, or AR-CAN.
Pledger said the new service is designed to boost civic engagement in the state.
"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 will now offer all Arkansans a convenient, front-row seat to many government proceedings without the need to travel from their homes, schools and businesses."
Legislative proceedings and public meetings deemed to have the most interest to the public will be chosen for broadcast. Videos on the AR-CAN platform will remain on the site for approximately 30 days following the live event.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson voiced his support for the new service, jokingly saying he would use it to "keep an eye on Sen. Rapert," whose district encompasses AETN's headquarters.
"This will give [the public] increased access to significant committee meetings, to commission meetings. I love the fact that some of our independent agencies will be under consideration for live-stream," Hutchinson said.
Pledger said the program will come at no additional cost to taxpayers and will be run with the network's existing budget. The service will begin with a meeting of the State Board of Finance on Tuesday.
The House and Senate both recently introduced live-streaming services, which will be available on the AR-CAN website and at Arkansas.gov/senate and arkansashouse.org.
In the interest of disclosure, KUAR and AETN have a reciprocal underwriting relationship and partner on various content projects.