State funding cuts pose “greatest immediate danger” to pubTV service in rural areas

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Of all the public TV stations facing steep cuts in state funding this year, Idaho Public Television is among those in “greatest immediate danger,” CPB Senior V.P. Mark Erstling tells Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has proposed to zero-out the state network’s funding over four years. For a station broadcasting to sparsely populated areas, there’s no way to make up the difference with corporate underwriting or member donations. “You can really see a potential loss of service,” Erstling says. “We don’t have enough funding to bail out all the stations that are coming to us asking for help and saying they’re in financial distress.” To adjust to the loss of $1.6 million annually, Idaho Public TV will have to cancel most of its local programming, close three studios and shut off its network of rural translators, among other service changes.