Friday, March 12, 2010

Public TV faces cuts but off chopping block

State plans to dole out $1.3 million


By JON DUVAL
Express Staff Writer

Idaho Public Television viewers can thank state legislators for not taking Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's recommendation to heart, choosing to reduce the station's budget rather than look to phase out funding altogether.

The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee approved on Tuesday a fiscal 2010-11 budget that decreases the state's share of IPTV's budget by $274,000, or just over 16 percent.

The approximately $1.3 million that IPTV will receive from the state translates to an overall cut of 8.3 percent in funding for the station.

The station receives more that 60 percent of its overall budget from fundraising. Station General Manager Peter Morrill said it is in the midst of a fundraising campaign running from March 6-21.

"It's absolutely critical to get people to consider donating to IPTV because we could face a very tough situation if we don't hit our private fundraising goals," Morrill said.

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In his State of the State address in January, Otter recommended phasing out state funding for IPTV over the next four years. Station managers said such an action would drastically alter the network's service and end transmission to rural areas, including the Wood River Valley.

They said other effects would have included the elimination of at least 19 full-time and 37 part-time positions, the closure of regional studios in Moscow and Pocatello, and the cancellation of locally produced programming such as "Idaho Legislature Live."

With the committee's adopted budget, Morrill said, IPTV will be able to continue operating as it is currently.

"The state funding will allow us to move forward in a belt-tightening manner, but we won't see any major changes," he said. "The biggest impact will be employees enjoying the opportunity for an additional number of furlough days."

Jon Duval: jduval@mtexpress.com




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