As the National Governors Association (NGA) meets with President Obama to discuss the role states can play in enhancing economic prosperity, the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) is issuing a plea for governors and state legislators to invest in local public television stations. The key to attaining economic prosperity lies in raising educational achievement, […]
As the National Governors Association (NGA) meets with President Obama to discuss the role states can play in enhancing economic prosperity, the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) is issuing a plea for governors and state legislators to invest in local public television stations. The key to attaining economic prosperity lies in raising educational achievement, and local public television stations play an integral role supplementing the educational system.
“Local public television stations are unique community treasures that fulfill vital educational functions serving every segment of our population from pre-school kids to adults struggling to cope with economic hardship, job retraining and healthcare crises,” said APTS President-CEO Larry Sidman. “Educators, policymakers and business leaders across our country uniformly point to the need to strengthen educational achievement to grow our economy in the global marketplace. Local public television stations are — and have always been — a part of the education solution. We have a long track record of demonstrably improving learning outcomes through children’s programming, like SUPER WHY!, Sesame Street and Between The Lions.”
As states across the nation are dealing with funding shortfalls caused by the economic recession, a number of governors are considering or have prepared massive cuts in support to local public television stations. A recent APTS survey projects that this year local public television stations face state funding cuts of more than $50 million — or 15 percent of the total amount state governments invested in public television stations last year. For next year, total state funding is projected to be 21 percent below last year’s 2007 levels.
For example, NGA Chair Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania is proposing to eliminate in fiscal 2010 all state funding supporting Pennsylvania’s local public television stations. APTS says this would undermine the ability of Pennsylvania’s eight public television stations to provide critical programming and services. Similarly, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is recommending a $3.5 million cut in annual state funding, and for local public broadcaster WNIN, this loss in state funding would be more than 15 percent of the station’s total budget.
In New York, Governor David Paterson is proposing to cut annual state aid for New York public broadcasting stations — television and radio — by 50 percent, down to $9.4 million in fiscal year 2009-2010. “The proposed 50 percent cut in state funding would be devastating” said Neal Shapiro, president-CEO of WNET.ORG in New York City. “We provide essential tools to educators — lesson plans and media resources that correlate to state and national standards — and we provide these tools free of charge to all educators in New York state. The proposed cut would prevent our ability to continue this vital work.”
In Virginia, the House Appropriations Committee recently voted to zero out all state funding for public broadcasting in Virginia, leaving only an instructional services grant that supports K-12 educational efforts. Were this action to stand, APTS says, it would force Virginia public television stations to reduce local productions and to essentially cease bringing attention to regional needs and issues. It would also hamper early childhood programs created by Virginia public television stations.
Sidman continued: “Given public television’s key educational role, it is particularly unfortunate that dramatic cuts are now being proposed to state funding. State governments are essential investors in local public television stations, providing vital resources to enable stations to fulfill their educational missions. Therefore, I call upon the nation’s governors and state legislators to avoid making these cuts, and to instead continue their investment in local public stations to amplify the impact of state expenditures on education.”