State cuts support to Mississippi Public Broadcasting

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A reduction of almost $1 million in state funding is forcing Mississippi Public Broadcasting to find ways to absorb the loss.

“We’re trying to take steps to minimize any disruptions we might have on content,” said Ronnie Agnew, MPB executive director. “This cuts us back to 2006 levels.”

The cuts were included in the state’s budget for fiscal year 2017, which was adopted by the legislature in April. Declining revenue prompted the cuts across state agencies, which were made based on priority, said Rep. Herb Frierson, who plans to step down June 30 as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. School funding stayed level from fiscal year 2016, but other agencies took substantial hits, he said.

“Just about everything in state government took a cut, including public broadcasting,” Frierson said.

The $6.9 million appropriation to MPB is about $867,000 less than the amount given during the current fiscal year. State funding made up about 65 percent of MPB’s budget this fiscal year.

(Source: MPB)

(Source: MPB)

Earlier this month, Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Speaker Philip Gunn said in a joint statement that a staff error resulted in overestimating general fund revenues by $56.8 million in preparing the 2017 budget. It’s not known whether revenues will make up for the gap by the end of the calendar year or if the state will need to make more cuts when the legislature returns to session in January 2017.

Agnew said he’s not too worried about MPB. As a mature station, he said, it will fundraise and leave jobs unfilled. The station is also expecting several retirements, he said.

“I worked for newspapers,” said Agnew, formerly executive editor of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. “You know they’ve been cut over the years. You don’t cry. You just pick yourself up and figure out what you can do.”

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