State aid to Virginia stations again in jeopardy

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has proposed zeroing out the state’s $7.2 million in state funding for Virginia’s public television and radio stations and their educational telecommunications services for the next two years.

Pubcasters hope to convince McDonnell to restore some funds by arguing for the value of the educational services they provide. The state’s system does more for public schools than pubTV in many states. WHRO in Norfolk/Hampton Roads, for example, has created 22 online high-school courses that are available to schools for much lower annual fees than the roughly $5,000 per-student charges of commercial vendors, according to Bert Schmidt, WHRO’s president.

The governor’s office denied pubcasters’ request for a meeting, but Schmidt and his colleagues are still pursuing “creative solutions,” he says, such as channeling money through appropriate entities to assure politicians that it’s used solely for educational purposes.

The budget will be reviewed by the state legislature, where Republicans control the lower house by a huge majority and split the Senate 20-20, with Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling available to break ties.

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