Public TV stations divvy up funding cuts

Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission approved a plan last week for Alaska's four public television stations to evenly split a state funding cut of $127,500 for 2006.

But as station managers work to adjust their budgets, the U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill that could cut out another $2.2 million in federal funding for public broadcasting in Alaska.

"Predominantly, it's going to impact local services," Greg Petrowich, general manager of KUAC-FM and TV in Fairbanks, said of the state cuts. "It's about all we have to cut. We can't turn off the transmitters."

Petrowich said public television stations in Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks and Bethel would take a cut of about $31,787 each. He said local television production of shows such as Alaska Week, a weekly program covering state politics, Alaska Weather and other shows might be cut back.

He said the four stations work collaboratively on much of the television programming offered in the state and will spend the next three to six months deciding where to trim their budgets. The stations will first look to make up the difference through fundraising, Petrowich said.

"The general manager in me would say nothing is impossible because our donors are generous," he said. "They're already giving at twice the national average."

Jamie Waste, executive director for Alaska Public Broadcasting Inc., said public broadcasting in Alaska is preparing for the U.S. House of Representatives to vote on an appropriations bill this week that could result in a 25 percent cut or more to public broadcasting across the nation.

Alaska receives about an eight cent match from the federal government for every state dollar spent on public broadcasting. That means the state already stands to lose about $10,000 in federal funding based on the state cuts.

Petrowich said the federal cuts could be as high as 35 percent. That would mean an annual loss of about $2.2 million, he said.

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