Trump budget cuts could affect local public broadcasting

Trump budget cuts could affect local public broadcasting

With 93 million viewers every month, PBS is America’s largest classroom – funded with support from ‘viewers like you’ and the federal government. The new federal budget proposal released Monday could change that.

“We provide education for people who are interested in furthering their own education, but also who want to be entertained at the same time,” said Gary Stokes, president and general manager of KSPS Public Television.

For the last 50 years, KSPS has lived up to that mission – bringing PBS and local documentaries to more than 2 million homes around the Inland Northwest.

“We always expect there’s going to be a challenge to our funding,” Stokes said. “We like to think that we have proven ourselves over the years – that we shouldn’t have to worry about it – but we always do.”

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives $450 million in federal funds annually, which are distributed to 350 public television and radio stations across the country. The new federal budget proposal would cut all but $15 million.

“I would certainly be remiss if I didn’t say that I wasn’t concerned,” Stokes said.

KSPS operates on a budget of approximately $6 million and receives more than $1 million each year in federal funding.

“It’s going to be difficult for us to operate when we are with the loss of those funds,” Stokes said. “But in the end, we will have to figure it out.”

Funding for public broadcasting has been on the chopping block since the 1970s. But each year, members of Congress have rallied to keep PBS on the air, and so have viewers around the country.

“We have strong supporters out there that would help us find a way but there would be an impact,” Stokes said. He is more concerned about smaller affiliates.

“Not all of them are going to have the wherewithal or the resources to continue operating if something like this happens.”