If you and your family watch Smoky Hills Public Television and value its programming, you should be concerned about Governor Brownback’s proposal to cut funding for public broadcasting another 42% to $600,000 for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. This cut, after last year’s 50% cut, shows a lack of appreciation for the service that public broadcasting provides to all Kansans and/or underestimates how difficult it is to replace state funding with contributions from individuals, businesses, and foundations.
Cuts in state funding to Smoky Hills Public Television are counterproductive to achieving two of Governor Brownback’s stated goals increasing population in rural counties and ensuring that all Kansas children can read proficiently by 4th grade. Smoky Hills Public Television airs commercial-free, high-quality educational programming for people of all ages. Its programming for adults and youths brings cultural and scientific amenities into our homes, improving our quality of life by allowing us to enjoy the best of both rural and city life. Smoky Hills’ broadcast of 53 hours of children’s educational programs each week far exceeds the Federal Communications Commission’s requirement of 3 hours per week. Because Smoky Hills’ children’s educational television and outreach programs target low-income children who tend to score lower on literacy tests when entering kindergarten, this literacy work is a critical step toward making sure all children read proficiently by 4th grade. In fact, Big Bird has probably helped more kids learn to read than any single teacher.
State funding provides almost irreplaceable general operating support usually not available from private funders. If you value public television, ask your legislators to restore funding for public broadcasting to FY 2003-2012 levels (about $2.5 million) and become a member of Smoky Hills Public Television.