State Funding Rebounds for Public Television

Monday, 17 Mar 2014 09:06 AM

By Melanie Batley

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State funding for public television stations or statewide networks has experienced a resurgence in the last two years, recovering after a steep decline during the recession.

Figures provided by the Association of Public Television Stations indicate that even though funding is still significantly lower than in 2008, when 38 states appropriated roughly $277 million for public broadcasting, in the last two years there has been a $13.5 million increase in appropriations since hitting a low of $178 million, The New York Times reported.

There is also optimism about future gains after a number of state lawmakers proposed funding increases.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, for example, restored previously cut state funding to support public broadcasting in his first budget as governor, according to the Times, and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley recently proposed $6.35 million in funding, a 38 percent increase for Alabama Public Broadcasting.

In Florida, funding for public broadcasting went from zero after Gov. Rick Scott's 2011 inauguration to $7.4 million today.

In all, 21 states increased support for public broadcasting in the current budget cycle, while seven states allocated the same amount of funding, and seven states reduced support, the Times reported.

Public broadcasters have been highlighting their educational value by launching new digital classroom resources, online courses, and work force training, along with their traditional role in providing early childhood education through "Sesame Street" and other programs.

"We are low-cost, high-quality providers of these services in ways we weren't before," Patrick Butler, chief executive of the Association of Public Television Stations, told the Times, adding that state governments have begun to see new services as a "valuable adjunct" to state-provided educational services.


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