Wasilla Legislator Proposes Slashing Public Broadcasting Funds in Half

Alexandra Gutierrez/APRN 

The Legislature is considering halving the amount of funding available for public broadcasting. 

Rep. Lynn Gattis, a Wasilla Republican who chairs the Department of Administration finance subcommittee, introduced the cuts by saying the group was focused on essential needs. 

“In this fiscal climate, the state should focus on mission critical services, reduce its footprint, and take this opportunity to get out of business that it doesn’t need to be in,” she said. “This has truly been an opportunity to evaluate the wants versus the needs of state government.”

Between operations and infrastructure, public radio and television were granted $5 million in state funds in the last budget. With the proposal offered by the House Finance subcommittee, funding would be reduced to $2.5 million. 

Tyson Gallagher, an aide for Gattis, explained that the cuts would be focused on outlets that have other broadcasting options in their service area. That includes commercial radio stations. 

“With the advancements in technology and the development of other broadcast sources, there’s less of a need to maintain public service programming at comparable levels to prior years,” he said.

State grants contribute more than half a million dollars to Alaska Public Media’s $6 million budget, which includes APRN and the Southcentral stations KSKA and KAKM. KTOO, the Juneau public radio station, now gets 10 percent of its $2 million budget from state grants. KUAC, which is operated by the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, receives nearly $250,000. Because of the station’s position within the university, it was targeted for cuts when the school was experiencing its own shortfall. 

Locally, Kodiak Public Broadcasting will receive a total of $137,334 in the current fiscal year.

The changes will now be sent to the full House Finance Committee for consideration.

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