The economic downturn has forced Public Broadcasting Service affiliate WFYI to lay off staffers and cut programs. Now, like public stations across Indiana, it may be forced to make further cutbacks under a proposal by Gov. Mitch Daniels to strip it of all of its state funding.
The state's support of WFYI (Channel 20), amounting to $517,000 this year, represents less than 5 percent of the station's annual operating budget. Despite that small share, every dollar the station gets from the state can help it bring in up to $8 in additional funding from foundations, corporations and individuals, its officials said.
Daniels' proposed budget, unveiled earlier this month, would cut spending in a number of areas, including $3.5 million from public broadcasting statewide.
Weak fundraising already has hurt public broadcasters across the nation, and many have had layoffs. State subsidies are threatened in many cases, according to Lloyd Wright, president and chief executive of WFYI. But, he said, he didn't know of any other state considering wiping out its support entirely.
given the state of the economy, it would be hard to argue with a proposal to cut funding for public broadcasting by, say, 10%. times are rough, after all, and some belt-tightening would make sense. but instead, daniels wants to eliminate that funding altogether, which suggests that his primary motivation to cut the funding isn't economic but ideological.
the ploy is reminiscent of mayor ballard's recent proposal to completely eliminate city arts funding—use a tight budget and harsh economy as an excuse to eradicate much-loved arts programs. like many of his bone-headed ideas, ballard had to backtrack from that proposal once word got out. here's hoping the same thing will happen to this terrible plan to strip state funding from local PBS and NPR stations. ¶