Thursday, February 23, 2017

WVA Gov. Proposes Cutting Public Broadcasting Budget To Zero

West Virginia Democrat Gov. Jim Justice’s budget proposal would cut state funding for the West Virginia Public Broadcasting, or WVPB, from $4.6 million all the way down to zero.

According to the Daily Signal, Justice’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal is aimed at closing a $500 million revenue shortfall. It also includes about $450 million in new tax hikes.

The state’s portion of the funding makes up almost half of the WVPB’s $10 million budget, according to Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Foundation, which advocate on behalf of and raise private money for the state’s public broadcasting.

A statement from the organizations’ chairs read, “such a drastic and immediate cut threatens the very existence of our state’s PBS and NPR stations.”

“This state cut would translate into layoffs of up to 75 percent of our staff, which would endanger our ability to operate,” read the statement from Friends of WVPB Chairwoman Susan C. Hogan and WVPB Foundation Chairman Ted Armbrecht.

About $4.2 million of the $4.6 million covers the salaries and benefits for WVPB’s 71 employees, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Finn said 99 percent of Americans can pick up local public broadcasting stations — something that might not be true for parts of West Virginia, if WVPB partially or completely ceased operations.

He said one scenario is that the state could make arrangements to use the existing network of towers to retransmit public broadcasting from outside the state, perhaps from the Kentucky Educational Network or WQED, in Pittsburgh, but said those stations would have little incentive to provide any programming aimed at West Virginia audiences.

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