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.
Two public broadcasters active in southern California during the 1960s and 1970s, James Lee Mathes and Fred Burgess, retired to Kansas together in the 1980s. They died within seven months in 2007. James Lee Mathes
James Lee Mathes, 73, a pioneer in public TV at KCET and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, died March 27  in his home state, Kansas. He had pancreatic cancer. Mathes worked on such KCET projects as Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series and an eight-nation simulcast, as well as fundraising and general administration.
The FCC decided in July 1999 that it did not have grounds to get involved in an extended staff-management conflict at public TV station KPTS in Wichita/Hutchinson, Kan., but it fined the station $5,000 for not reporting two staffers’ gender discrimination complaints. Before the
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In re Application of )
Kansas Public Telecommunications Services, Inc.) File No. BRET-980129KG
For Renewal of License for )
Station KPTS(TV) )
Hutchinson, Kansas )
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AND NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY
Adopted: July 28, 1999; Released: July 28, 1999
By the Chief, Mass Media Bureau:
1. The Commission, by the Chief, Mass Media Bureau, pursuant to delegated authority, has
before it for consideration: (i) the license renewal application of Kansas Public Telecommunications Services,
Inc. (“KPTS, Inc.” or “licensee”) for Station KPTS(TV), Hutchinson, Kansas; (ii) an informal objection to
the renewal application filed by Candyce Hoop (“Hoop”) and Som Chanthabouly (“Chanthabouly”)
(collectively “informal objectors”), former employees of KPTS(TV); (iii) licensee’s “Motion For Extension of
Time” to file its opposition; (iv) an opposition to the informal objection filed by the licensee; (v) one letter filed
by both informal objectors and another letter filed by Hoop in response to the licensee’s opposition; (vi) an
amendment to the station’s renewal application filed on August 18, 1998, by the licensee; (vii) a “Motion For
Leave to File an Additional Pleading” and a pleading titled “Motion to Dismiss” filed by the licensee; (viii) a
letter filed by the informal objectors in response to the licensee’s two motions; and (ix) copies of the
discrimination complaints that the informal objectors filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of
The bitter conflict that led to the departure of the top two executives at Wichita, Kan., public TV station KPTS in 1996 has not yet been put to rest. A leader of the staff rebellion, Candyce P. (Candy) Hoop, and her onetime assistant, Som P. Chanthabouly, filed suits in federal court May 7, , charging that the station fired them in retribution for expressing workplace grievances three years ago. Though Kansas law allows plaintiffs to specify only damages “in excess of $75,000” in such lawsuits, the two former KPTS staffers are actually going for more than $1 million apiece, said one of their attorneys, Frank Kamas. Gloria Flentje, attorney for the station, gave the boilerplate response: “The station believes the cases are without merit and will defend itself vigorously.” The suits name not only KPTS but also the ousted longtime managers, interim and current presidents, and past and present board chairmen.
After six weeks of intense conflict with the majority of his staff, the president of Wichita’s KPTS, Zoel Parenteau, resigned his position Aug. 23 . His longtime v.p. of programming, Jim Lewis, resigned under pressure Aug. 8 . Parenteau will remain on staff as a v.p. and representative to the Kansas Public Broadcasting Council until July 1997, when he turns 65 and had planned to retire.
Uneasy staff members have returned to their work at Wichita’s KPTS after demanding the firing of the station’s top two executives and prompting the resignation of Vice President Jim Lewis. But late last week they were still seeking the ouster of President Zoel Parenteau, and the Board of Trustees’ executive committee has declined to let them take their case to the full board. Board leaders said Parenteau already planned to retire when he turns 65 next July 26. Seventeen of the 24 full-time KPTS staff members petitioned the trustees July 12 to investigate the management of Parenteau and Lewis. “Zoel Parenteau and Jim Lewis have conspired …