The Republican Governor of the state of Alaska has stripped all state funding from Alaska’s public radio and television stations, as part of 168 line-item vetoes to the state operating budget next year. Gov. Mike Dunleavy insists, “We believe that people will still be able to access programs through other means.”
During a press conference Friday, Dunleavy explained his position on the veto of just over $2 million for public radio, and $600,000 for public television: “We believe that with the number of stations, both radio and television — and just given our fiscal situation, it’s really the fiscal situation that’s driving the need to reduce the budget — we believe that people will still be able to access programs through other means,” Dunleavy said. “We still keep intact the emergency broadcasting aspect of public media. It’s not easy, but this is going to be part of the overall reduction.”
Exactly how the emergency broadcasting infrastructure and satellite system will be operated is unclear, as Dunleavy also vetoed the $46,000 appropriation for Alaska’s Public Broadcasting Commission, according to the website of public radio station KCAW, which says it will have to increase fundraising to survive the loss of $90,000. “It’s going to mean a lot more engagement with the community in order to make Raven Radio happen at the level that it currently does,” said GM Becky Meiers. “We’ll be doing a lot of work around fundraising, probably increasing the number of times we come to the community. We’ve also made some cuts, primarily to travel — and to some staffing — but one of our biggest priorities is to maintain the level of service that we’ve been providing to our communities, to the fullest extent possible.”
Meiers says that she is relieved that the governor left the public radio satellite infrastructure untouched, otherwise KCAW would have had to come up with an alternative method for broadcasting to the seven other communities it serves outside of Sitka, AL.
The veto means that KCAW, for one, will lose $76,000 in direct funding from the Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission, plus federal matching funds of about $14,000 from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In all, about 18% of the station’s budget disappeared with the Governor’s decision.