The future of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, whose PBS and NPR affiliates serve the entire state, is in jeopardy following Gov. Jim Justice’s proposal Wednesday to eliminate its state funding in the upcoming fiscal year.
“We believe this would be unwise and irresponsible. We understand the state needs to save money, but such a drastic and immediate cut threatens the very existence of our state’s PBS and NPR stations,” Susan C. Hogan and Ted Armbrecht, prominent WVPB backers, wrote on the broadcaster’s website.
Losing $4.6 million from the state, roughly half WVPB’s annual funding, would have devastating effects, including the broadcasters’ diminished ability to raise the matching grants that make up the rest of its budget, they said. WVPB would have to let go roughly 75% of its staff, threatening its ability to operate, they said.
Ramifications include the loss of programming serving low-income kids and educators; the $1 million economic impact of eliminating the organization’s concert series; and reducing communications in emergency situations, they said.
Justice’s proposal to nix WVPB funding is part of his attempt to close a nearly $500 million shortfall by raising $450 million in new taxes and $26.6 million in budget cuts.