David Piccerelli, president of Rhode Island PBS, said he was shocked to learn of Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s proposal to eliminate state funding for Channel 36, which provides about a third of its $3 million budget. “If this is a policy plan that the governor wants to put forth,” Piccerelli told local CBS affiliate WPRI, “then I think we should probably put together a policy plan rather than just cutting us off at the knees and telling us to go do it.” Chafee’s proposed budget cuts RI PBS’s current state support from $932,562 to $425,286 next fiscal year, and ends it altogether in 2014. The rest of the station’s budget is around $1.25 million in private donations and $750,000 from CPB. Rhode Island PBS is running a $90,000 operating deficit this fiscal year.
“The original intent of public television was to provide educational programming for poor communities that didn’t have access,” Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger said. “Times and needs have changed and most people, regardless of income, have access to hundreds of channels and different mechanisms. … Everyone still has access to WGBH Channel 2 in Boston.”