AP: Public broadcasting faces budget problems
TOPEKA (AP) — A reduction in state funding would strain public broadcast stations already struggling to provide programs while seeking other financial sources, some station managers say.
After losing a bid to cut all support for public broadcasting last year, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback wants to reduce state funding for public TV and radio stations by 40 percent, or $400,000, this year, The Kansas City Star reported Sunday. That comes after state support was reduced last year to $1 million from $1.5 million.
Budget cuts have already made an impact: High Plains Public Radio in Garden City occasionally goes dead or repeats programs on consecutive days; Radio Kansas in Hutchinson shuts down from midnight to 6 a.m. to reduce its electric bill. Other managers said they have laid off staff or asked employees to take on multiple duties.
More budget cuts mean some stations could close altogether, managers said.
"We would take a pretty good hit. All the stations would," said Deb Oyler, the executive director for High Plains, which serves most of western Kansas.
The state's contribution makes up between 11 percent and 16 percent of some rural Kansas stations' budgets, and about 7 percent of the budget at KPTS in Wichita.
The Brownback administration wants public broadcasters to find money elsewhere.
KPTS raises 65 percent of its $2.6 million budget from private sources, Director of Operations Dave McClintock said. But a 65 percent reduction in state support in the last five years has undermined fundraising efforts, he said.
The funding cut mirrors a national trend. The National Educational Telecommunications Association says states have reduced funding from $214 million in fiscal 2011 to $177 million in fiscal 2013.
While some critics might blame politics, most cuts reflect tough state finances, NETA president Skip Hinton said.
"It's not considered by many as an essential level of state service," Hinton said.
In some states, including Kansas, some conservative lawmakers have championed public broadcasting. When Brownback wanted to eliminate or further cut grants in 2011, the Republican-controlled Legislature approved smaller reductions than he wanted.
Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, said the state shouldn't reduce funding for a service that benefits rural areas where the governor hopes to encourage population growth.