Kansas governor proposes 18 percent cut to pubcasting support

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has proposed reducing state funding for public broadcasting by $100,000 for fiscal year 2016, a 16 percent cut from this fiscal year.

Brownback’s proposed budget calls for a two-part reduction in funding that would cut state support by $12,000 this fiscal year, to $600,000, and then to $500,000 for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Eugene Williams, c.e.o. of KTWU-TV in Topeka, was not surprised by the proposed cut, since Brownback has consistently opposed state funding of public broadcasting. Williams had already adjusted his station’s budget to prepare for cuts in state support. KTWU’s received $50,000 in state funds this fiscal year, down from a high of $300,000 in previous years.

“I saw the writing on the wall four years ago,” Williams said. “The governor has been consistent in saying there were things he didn’t see as being core parts of government. I think he would say public media is meaningful and important but is not something state government should be funding.”

“Knowing that revenue for the state is down and the governor has been looking for cuts I think it’s positive the funding is in there,” said Michael Quade, c.e.o. of Smoky Hills Public Television in Bunker Hill, Kan. “And we’re thankful for what we get.”

For the first time, Brownback also proposed that the state’s $500,000 in support would go only to stations in Kansas. If passed, that provision would affect KCPT in Kansas City, Mo., which sits on the Missouri side of the border but reaches into Kansas.

Kliff Kuehl, c.e.o. of KCPT, was surprised to learn of the change and said he planned to fight the proposal. Kansas’s support for KCPT amounted to $43,500 this fiscal year, less than 1 percent of the station’s operating budget. But the support has recognized the border station’s service to Kansas residents with localized programming and news coverage, Kuehl said.

“We’re located in Missouri, but we serve probably more Kansans than any of the other stations in Kansas,” Kuehl said. “We don’t want to cause a problem for the other stations, but we would like to get the funding if we can.”

  • Gordon Sroufe

    Cutting the funding to KCPT is a viable plan by the governor of KS. It is doubtful that KCPT pays taxes of any kind to the state of KS. Why, then should they benefit from KS residents taxes.

    I wonder how much KCPT receives from MO. If anything, they should not be trying to double dip because of their location. If every station that borders two or more states did the same, many station may be able to drop Federal funding. No, that would never happen. KCPT is being greedy.

  • zdenek

    KCPT is justified in getting funding from Kansas as they do a lot of “local” programming about Kansas. It is programming that commercial stations in Kansas City will not provide. The biggest loser will be the four public stations in western Kansas operated by Smoky Hills. That area has a very small population and no local stations producing local programming. All network stations are repeaters of Wichita stations. Even the CBS station licensed to Hutchinson operates out of Wichita.