Goodbye, Legislature

This probably wasn’t the best time to make the Minnesota Legislature invisible, but that’s just what TPT-17 has done by eliminating daily coverage of the Minnesota Legislature on its main channel. Legislative coverage on free TV is one of the little facts of Minnesota life that made our political process so transparent.

TPT has substituted “lifestyle programming” instead. As I write this, we’re all watching how to make equidistant, light hem stitching on Sewing with Nancy. It’s fascinating, sure, but you can’t close the big budget gap with pinking shears, except in a metaphor.

Granted, it’s highly unlikely the calls are pouring into the TPT headquarters with people demanding access to the K-12 Mandate Reduction Work Group session, but it’s rarely a good thing when fewer eyes have access to what politicians are doing.

TPT has moved the Legislature to its “digital tier,” which you can get if you have the correct cable TV tier or have over-the-air access and you can perform the pat-your-head-rub-your-belly method of finding new channels. If you have Dish Network or DirectTV, you’re out of luck.

You can still see the Legislature on its Web site.

  • The Legislature web site lists DirectTV as “coming soon.”

    Back to “Sewing With Nancy!”

  • tiredboomer

    So (or is that Sew) Bob, do I read your post correctly? Is the legislature NOT available on one of the over the air digital channels?

    This brings out another issue concerning TPT. When I set up my government subsidized converter box, I was excited by all the additional channels attached to channel 17. However, since the Feb 17 switch, the channel reduction and the changes of content offered seems to be quite a downgrade (even from the old channel 2 and 17 configuration). Is that due to budget constraints? Or was Clem Burch just trying to sell us a new TV?

  • Bob Collins

    I believe it IS available for over the air folks. Presumably you’d have to run your channel scan on your TV first. Did you run that after Feb. 17? and you got FEWER channels?

  • tiredboomer


    “old digital” (to the best of my failing memory):

    2-1 (old 2)

    2-2 (mostly old 2 with some added programming)

    17-1 (old 17)

    17-2 (MN channel)

    17-3 (TPT kids)

    17-4 (TPT create (the new lifetime channel))

    17-5 (weather)

    “new digital”

    2-1 (old 2)

    2-2 (MN channel)

    2-3 (lifetime)

    2-4 (weather)

  • bobinmsp

    I was under the impression that the only programming that was being lost in the digital transition process was the TPT Kids channel (and that except for one or two shows, TPT Kids was duplicative of programming on other channels – mostly on 2).

    Was the drop of the Legislature a change independent of the channel “realignment”?

    I guess I have to keep up with TPT programming since I no longer have Channel 17 to catch the programming that I missed on Channel 2 the night before.

  • Bob Collins

    The legislature has been moved to a digital channel inaccessible to many people.

    The “don’t use ch 17 for Ch 2 repeats” makes sense, imho, given that people have TiVo and such — and some of that programming is rebroadcast anyway on Ch 2.

    I’m interested in hearing from someone who has cable who can tell me where the legislature ended up at on their tier and whether it’s on the same tier and at the same price.

    I BELIEVE 17 used to be available on basic cable. If it’s on a digital tier, does that cost more to access? In which case, what’s the value of digital signals again? (g)

    (Incidentally, I’m a member of TPT and I don’t intend to drop that membership just because they made a single programming decision with which I disagree.)

  • user


    It’s right there… Free… on Broadcast Digital TV… just like everything else..

    If you haven’t gotten the message about about the NATIONAL MANDATED switch to DTV… then perhaps you haven’t made that switch from AM to FM yet.


  • Congress and the lege need to put strings on all public b’casting money to make sure that the obvious public services are being offered. Legislative sessions obviously should be b’cast, just like major Congressional committee hearings should be.

    But I’m stunned by this comment Bob: “Legislative coverage on free TV is one of the little facts of Minnesota life that made our political process so transparent.”

    In the twenty years I’ve lived here, I’ve found nothing about Minnesota politics to be transparent. The DFL caucuses are the most Byzantine cesspool of backroom dealmaking imaginable, and Republican caucuses all but taser anyone who shows up with a camera.

    I have NEVER seen one — not ONE — article or newscast that in any way made the Minnesota political process more transparent. Minnesota’s political parties (all three of them) are nothing like any other state parties in the country, and I doubt average Minnesotans have a clue about that.

    That’s media FAIL in all caps.

  • Bob Collins

    Well, I should’ve said transparent by comparison, and I was primarily referring to the legislature, not the caucuses. Anyone who actually watches a house floor session and follows along with their favorite blog, however, can most certainly ascertain the backstory of what’s REALLY going on.

    That said, my comments about the committee process and omnibus bills are quite numerous so I won’t waste time repeating them here.

    By comparison, Minnesotans have a lot of tools at their disposal that people in other states simply do not.

  • Bob Collins

    //If you haven’t gotten the message about about the NATIONAL MANDATED switch to DTV… then perhaps you haven’t made that switch from AM to FM yet.

    I think I’ve been pretty clear about the situation. If you have DirectTV or Dish, it’s NOT there. If you don’t have an outside antenna and a coverter, it’s NOT there. If you don’t have the right package on cable, it’s not there.

    Maybe someday. But not right now, although I am considering taking down the satellite dishes, cutting the cable (there’s always Hulu), and putting up an outside antenna.

    Otherwise I’ll miss my favorite show of the year: The last hour of the legislature.

  • mulad

    Prior to the 18th, 2-1 and 2-2 had been simulcasting the same stuff for a month or three.

    I was at home yesterday waiting for the cable guy and got a bit annoyed when I saw that 2-1 and 2-3 (tpt Life) were both showing the same show (Keeping Up Appearances or some other Britcom). That didn’t make sense to me, since it meant that analog 2 and analog 17 were both showing the same thing, though maybe they’re still getting some wires crossed in the transition.

    Well, people who have been slow to buy digital equipment are better off in the Twin Cities than folks up in Fargo-Moorhead — my mom’s visiting up there this week and says that only one analog station is still on the air. She was lucky enough to think ahead and brought up a digital converter for use at my grandmother’s house.

  • mulad

    Er, um…

    Are we talking cable viewers? Yeah, things get messy there. You can buy Comcast’s Digital Starter package and then the digital tuner that comes with that or an upgrade to an HD tuner — but that’s a total racket anyway, since some HDTVs (especially newer ones) come with the ability to tune to local digital channels built-in. If you’re looking through the spec sheets on your TV, you want to find the three letters “QAM” if you want to tune to digital channels on cable.

    Over-the-air TV uses an encoding method called 8-VSB to convert the ones and zeroes of the digital TV datastream into radio waves. Digital cable uses a different system, usually 256-QAM. However, the data stream being carried is essentially the same whether you’re on cable or going over-the-air (an MPEG-2 Transport Stream — basically similar to what you’ve got on a DVD, though it’s chunked up in a different way).

    Local over-the-air and public access channels are transmitted over the cable lines unencrypted, so any TV or decoder that can understand QAM should be able to receive them. However, your favorite cable channels (USA, TNT, SciFi, etc.) are encrypted and need a special device to be readable.

    Of course, the cable TV support people are trained to tell you that you absolutely must buy their magic digital tier service and their digital/HD tuner to be able to receive any digital TV whatsoever, which is a blatant lie designed to lighten your pocketbook in return for disappointing service (since the basic digital tier basically just gives you what you already had, though I think this gives you “on demand” features, which could be worthwhile).

  • Bob Collins

    We’re talking all the customers I indicated — satellite customers, for example, don’t get the Legislature anymore.

    As far as the cable folks go, the average person isn’t going to jump through too many hopes to figure out the technology. We’re talking a country that still has 12:00:00 blinking on old VCRs.

    Bottom line: Fewer people have access to the Legislative coverage. I’m not suggesting this is the end of the world. I’m saying it’s not — at least yet — exactly the fulfillment of the promise of the digital age.

    That may be mitigated by our increased ability to sew, however.

  • tiredboomer

    >>The “don’t use ch 17 for Ch 2 repeats” makes sense, imho, given that people have TiVo and such —

  • bsimon

    “The “don’t use ch 17 for Ch 2 repeats” makes sense, imho, given that people have TiVo and such — and some of that programming is rebroadcast anyway on Ch 2.”

    Psst!! Tivo don’t work with over-the-air broadcasts. It only works with cable or satellite.

  • bsimon

    “That may be mitigated by our increased ability to sew, however.”

    Sewing may come in handy, the way things are going. Maybe they can start a series on darning socks and other tips & tricks for making things last.