State cuts threaten to shutter two Pennsylvania pubTV stations

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Proposed budget cuts in Pennsylvania are putting two stations in jeopardy of closing, according to testimony at a hearing Wednesday of the Senate’s Communications and Technology Committee. Gov. Ed Rendell wants to eliminate the network that links stations statewide, and end grants to individual stations. “The precipitous decline in funding would have a severe, if not fatal, effect on our two smallest stations,” Tony May, chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Television Network, told the committee. May told Current that Philadelphia’s WYBE and WQLN in Erie each count on state funding for more than 30 percent of their budgets, and that there are “certainly alternatives to going dark but none of them are very palatable.” Under Rendell’s proposal, some limited functions of the network would continue through another state agency.