ECON 919 - State funding for public broadcasting

Mar 1, 2019

 


This week, we spin the microphone around so to speak, and take a look at what Governor Mike Dunleavy’s budget proposal for public broadcasting would look like here at KDLL.

 

 


As it sits, the governor’s proposal would zero out all state funding for public radio and television, including a state-owned satellite network, which delivers emergency alerts and other programming to stations across Alaska.

A big part of the plan is eliminating the Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission. That body doles out grants to stations, including KDLL, which is used as non-federal financial support. KDLL typically receives between $75,000 and $77,000 a year from the state, part of a roughly $400,000 annual budget. I asked our General Manager, Jenny Neyman, to lay out what all this could mean for public radio on the central peninsula.

“The threshold that we have to show in order to access our federal funding is $300,000 a year. That is a very large number. A very large chunk of that very large number is state funding. That’s not to say that we would automatically not be able to get that federal funding...but functionally, there’s no way that KDLL could make up that $77,000 difference.”

The bottom line is, KDLL isn’t going off the air because of the governor’s proposed budget. But, the final numbers in that budget will go a long way in determining what it looks, and sounds like, in the future.

“We don’t automatically lose our FCC license if we lose our funding. Nobody’s going to come and cart off our tower, nobody’s going to come clip our antennas. We will still have the capacity to broadcast, it’s just a question of what?”

“We have local programming. That is what our staff funding goes to, is having local news, local shows. KDLL has been growing in the direction of having more local programming in recent years. We’ve really heard from listeners that that’s what they want from us. So it’s going to make for some tough decisions if we can’t afford to do all the things we’re doing now, what are we going to prioritize, and how are we going to make that happen?”

And of course, committee meetings will be happening regarding this particular line item in the governor’s budget, and we’ll keep you up to date on when those are happening and how you can participate.

 

Now, a look at this week’s number: 35.

That’s how many days have passed since Enstar Natural Gas took delivery of gas from Furie, the company operating in Cook Inlet’s Kitchen Light Unit. As previously reported by our own Jay Barrett, hydrates have blocked the pipeline. Furie supplies about a quarter of Enstar’s gas, however, a relatively warm winter has not had an impact on customers.