And that grinch would be Florida Governor Rick Scott.
And Florida’s public broadcasting system statewide is feeling that pinch since June of 2011 when Governor Scott vetoed nearly $4.8 million in state funding for PBS outlets across Florida, a move which took even members of the Florida legislature by surprise as the GOP Legislature had already made the funds available
Every public TV station in the state lost $300,000; every public radio station lost more than $60,000, and in Tampa Bay, WEDU, Channel 3 TV, and WUSF-FM radio, and WMNF-FM radio suffered total losses of a million dollars in total funding cuts.
That’s a lot of spare change when you’re talking about behemoth government budgets.
But, in the case of public media, i.e. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which services all of the afore mentioned Tampa Bay area media outlets, you are talking about programs, and programming which already operate on razor thin budgets and member stations who depend heavily upon private donors, and this in an age when everybody has been tightening the ole purse strings for awhile.
The budget cuts for the public broadcasting have spread across half of the states in the country, and show a combined loss of $85 million in state aid since 2008 according to the watchdog group, Free Press.
It has taken awhile for the effects of those budget cuts to actually show up in Tampa Bay and some of them are hideous.
WUSF Public Media shut down a program to read periodicals for the blind, laid off two people and declined to replace two more according to the Tampa Bay Times.
WMNF-FM radio has announced a scrap-metal drive to earn more private funding, and planning a golf tournament to scrape up more money to put that $60,000 back into their bank account, after their October fundraising drive fell short by $30,000, which is only going to expand the fundraising drives, thereby raising the ire of viewers who patiently accept the interruptions in their programming for the sake of maintaining the quality of the entertainment and public affairs choices offered up by public TV and radio.
WEDU-TV has endured a total budget shrinkage of by $4 million bucks since 2007, as costs of purchasing the PBS programming have escalated, and their last fund-raising fell $200,000 short of replacing the whopping $435,000 lost by the Scott’s veto. And they can only produce local TV programming when a separate grant is paying for it.
And another whopper at WUSF Public Media which operates WUSF-CH 16, NPR outlet WUSF -FM and classical music station WSMR-FM when their combined budgets were slashed by $500,000, which resulted in shutting down some radio services and layoffs, and the dread of ending a state-wide health-reporting project which was started with a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and will run out in June.
And most of these public media outlets are having to consider evern more of the term they most dislike hearing, corporate sponsorship.
If all of this business of cutting funds for quality and educational and entertainment for TV and Radio broadcasting public consumption sounds draconion, well, it is.
Just ask Big Bird, the alpha Henson muppet who has been onscreen for Sesame Street, one of the greatest educational gambits ever thunk up by any entertainment company, for all 42 years of the show’s existence.
Or Oscar the Grouch for that matter, Big Bird’s sometimes nemesis and perhaps alter ego on the same show, if Governor Scott had his way, his policy and stance on fiscal policy had it’s way on the national level, it would be the ruin of one of the most reverered and admired and educational and funny shows in all of television land, public or private.
do you really think these two guys could make it in the real world out there if Sesame StreetTV show were ever to be cut for lack of funding?
And maybe governor Scott should take a cue from the late Winston Churchill, who when told that Britain needed to made cuts in arts funding because of the mounting costs of WW II, replied, “Then what are we fighting for?”