Pennsylvania’s public television stations may receive state funds in fiscal year 2023, just a year after seeing the support zeroed out.
A state budget by Gov. Tom Wolf released Tuesday proposes restoring public TV funding, at $1.5 million. For FY22, the state cut all funding to Pennsylvania PBS, a group of seven stations. The stations had received $750,000 the previous year.
The funding, divided evenly among the stations, had supported technology needs and operating expenses. It also covered program-related fees, equipment acquisitions and production and distribution costs.
“Pennsylvania PBS stations appreciate the Governor’s support of public television, further recognizing our commitment to provide educational content to the residents of the commonwealth,” the stations said in a joint statement. “As in prior years, we will advocate the merits of our cause with members of the legislature, and request support.”
Gov. Wolf’s proposed budget last year zeroed out a line item for “public television technology” before the state legislature approved the funding cuts. At the time, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, a state agency that advises officials about investments, said Wolf’s budget prioritized economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and growth through tax cuts for businesses and investments in workforce development, adding that other priorities “do not undercut or discount the importance of public media.”
This year, a spokesperson for the department said the governor still supports public broadcasting. The FY23 budget “proposes the restoration of a line item that was previously funded and was cut by the legislature last year, so this is not technically an increase in funding,” said spokesperson Penny Ickes in an email. “The governor supports public television since it plays a big role in educating, informing and connecting the citizens of Pennsylvania. Many rural communities that don’t have access to large media outlets depend on public television and the educational programming it provides, especially for children.”
The state’s legislature previously zeroed out funding in 2009. Wolf’s office proposed restoring the funds in 2015. In fiscal years 2017 and 2018, stations received $250,000. Wolf’s office also proposed $250,000 for FY20, but the legislature increased the funding to $750,000.