Senators, Cable Firm at Odds over St. Croix TV Coverage

May 13, 2004 – Lack of television coverage of the Legislature on St. Croix lately has caused a stir among some Crucian senators.
In a release on Thursday, Senate President David Jones said people on St. Croix have been unable to view legislative meetings "since early April" because of "an ongoing problem" with Innovative Cable TV.
Jones announced that coverage of the Legislature's deliberations Tuesday and last Friday on the fiscal year 2004 supplemental budget bill will be rebroadcast on St. Croix on cable channel 5 beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.
"We have a responsibility to the people of St. Croix to involve them in the legislative process," Jones said. "This is not the best solution, but until Innovative solves this ongoing problem, we must do all we can to keep the St. Croix community informed."
Tom Dunn, Innovative Communication Corp. spokesman, acknowledged that Crucians were unable to view the Friday and Tuesday Senate meetings. But senators claim the problem goes beyond those two days.
"We've identified the problem," Dunn said. And that problem was, he said, that one of the receivers on St. Croix had not been working properly.
Innovative sent the receiver off via FedEx for repairs, he said.
Dunn also said the company is working with the government on a permanent solution to prevent such problems in the future. He said the solution involves linking microwave systems so that the executive and legislative branches can transmit to each other.
"This is a request that the government has made on Innovative, and we're doing all we can to work along with the government," he said.
Dunn could not say when the new system would be set in place. But meanwhile, he said, Innovative will continue using the St. Croix receiver, once it has been repaired.
Sen. Ronald Russell, who, like Jones, represents the St. Croix district, said several important Senate sessions held on St. Thomas over the last few weeks could not be seen on TV on St. Croix. And legislature meetings taking place on St. Croix have usually been taped, never aired live, he said.
"In this year 2003, where technology provides for digital communication and high-tech transfer of information, there is no reason why an entire district should be blocked out from cablecast service," Russell said.
"If you want to educate and improve the residents' participation in the voting process, live cablecast will enhance the process," he said.
Russell said he does not agree with Innovative's suggestion that the government purchase a microwave system for the broadcast. Because Innovative has the exclusive right to provide cable TV service in the territory, he said, the company should "provide and maintain" the system, which he said would put an end to the current problems.

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