Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Iowa Radio: Funding For Public Radio Cut

The state Board of Regents will pull funding from Iowa Public Radio for the upcoming fiscal year, the station announced Friday.

The Des Moines Register reports IPR Executive Director Myrna Johnson said in an email that the statewide radio network will lose $875,000 because of the decision, about 10% of the revenue it expected to receive. The station's next fiscal year begins July 1.

"University funding has been critical support that has helped IPR serve citizens in every corner of our state, and its loss will present a financial challenge for us as we plan for the upcoming fiscal year," Johnson wrote in her email, adding that the regents' decision was tied to decreased revenues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. "While navigating these financial challenges, IPR will continue to focus on its mission to serve Iowans with essential news, music, education and public service programming."

Johnson said IPR officials are exploring fundraising options to offset the cut. She said the Regents have also discussed selling the universities' Federal Communications Commission licenses to IPR, which currently manages the stations through operating agreements with the universities.

Josh Lehman, senior communications director for the Regents, said IPR's board of directors has worked toward operating without university funding for almost a decade. As part of a five-year strategic plan, the regents began to decrease the amount of annual funding to IPR beginning in 2012.

That plan called for IPR to operate without any funding from the Regents by the end of June 2017, Lehman said. The regents agreed to delay that plan in 2015, though it began to cut funding again this fiscal year.

"The pandemic has created massive disruptions and financial losses to our public universities," Lehman said in an email. "The universities are needing to reallocate resources to support other core functions, primarily providing a top-quality education for our students. There will be many difficult financial decisions to come, none of which are easy nor made lightly."

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