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Romanoff, ‘Father’ of Legislative TV, Advocates For ‘Tele-Testifying’

DENVER — Former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, the “father” of Colorado’s legislative cablecasts on Comcast Channel 165, is urging his successors to take the additional steps of televising committee meetings and bringing “tele-testifying” to Colorado’s capitol.
“I hope it would be … possible at some point to televise committee rooms and to — better yet — actually make that interactive so that citizens from Durango and Grand Junction and La Junta and other parts of the state don’t have to travel five or six hours to get their five minutes of fame, or three minutes, of fame,” Romanoff recently told members of the newly formed Colorado Channel Authority.
During Romanoff’s time as speaker, the state’s research arm, the Legislative Council, looked into the cost of tele-testifying and calculated that the cost would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars, staffer Scott Nachtrieb told State Bill on Tuesday.
“The cost was prohibitive, and now it is even more prohibitive” given the state’s budget crisis, he said.
Romanoff told the authority members — who are on the verge of taking over responsibility for the Internet- and cable-casts of House and Senate proceedings — that he was proud to have promoted the idea and happy to see it continued after his departure in 2008, when the House first started airing its proceedings. The Senate is expected to begin cablecasting in time for the 2010 General Assembly.
“My vision … is that both chambers would come on board,” he said at the authority’s organizational meeting on Nov. 4. “I’m glad that’s going to happen, starting in January.”
State Rep. Debbie Benefield, the authority’s chair, quizzed Romanoff about the best ways to raise money to finance the channel going forward.
“I had the easy part of this job,” he said. “Why don’t we put on a show, a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland sort of movie, working for six weeks over Thanksgiving and Christmas” to raise money from foundations.
Romanoff said it was unlikely that foundations, which pledged start-up costs, would pay to subsidize ongoing operational costs.
The authority, unlike the state, will have the ability to sell advertising or underwriting opportunities, Nachtrieb said. Users also could be charged to watch the proceedings, but Romanoff called that option “less palatable.”
Since leaving the House, Romanoff has taught political science and is now vying for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Michael Bennet, also a Democrat.

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