West Virginia takes control of state pubcasting underwriting funds

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The West Virginia Educational Broadcasting Authority, licensee for the state’s pubradio and television stations, on June 2 approved the transfer of underwriting funds from the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Foundation to state-controlled accounts, reports the Charleston Daily Mail. Critics are concerned the move may result in the authority making pubcasting programming decisions. The shift was requested by Kay Goodwin, state secretary of education and the arts, to improve accountability. “Currently, all proceeds from underwriting go directly to specific foundation checking accounts, on which no foundation directors have signature authority,” Goodwin said at the Wednesday meeting. “Foundation directors make no determination as to how funds are expended from those checking accounts.” Goodwin recommended there be a “clear delineation in the finances and staffing of the authority and foundation,” the paper said. The board okayed the change — but exempted expenditures for Mountain Stage, the popular national music show produced in the state. Authority CFO Michael Meador issues checks for performance expenses, for a quicker turnaround on those payments. Andy Ridenour, the show’s e.p., told the board this is done to get payments to visiting artists within a few days of their appearances. He said a new process that would require state and foundation approval might hold up payments and hinder the show’s ability to draw bigger-name artists.