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Governor vetoes funding for Alaska public radio and television from state budget

Jul 2, 2019

Gov. Dunleavy spared the funding for Alaska’s public broadcasting satellite system, but vetoed the operating budget for the state’s public television and radio stations. (Photo by Robert Woolsey/KCAW)

Alaska’s governor announced a 182-line item veto to the state operating budget. Those cuts include more than $2 million for public radio and $600,000 for public television.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy spoke about his cuts to public radio and television during a June 28 news conference in Juneau.

“We believe that with the number of stations, both radio and television — and just given our fiscal situation, it’s really the fiscal situation that’s driving the need to reduce the budget — we believe that people will still be able to access programs through other means,” Dunleavy said. “We still keep intact the emergency broadcasting aspect of public media. It’s not easy but this is going to be part of the overall reduction.”

Requests to the governor’s office for comment were not returned by this story’s deadline.

Alaska Broadcasters Association provides assistance and addresses matters of common concern to the Alaska radio and television industry.

ABA President DeeDee Caciari said the cuts could heavily affect rural stations.

“There's going to be a ripple effect throughout the whole state of Alaska,” Caciari said. “Especially those rural areas." 

Caciari is the general sales manager and station manager for three commercial stations in Fairbanks. But she said, the cuts to public media would affect Alaska broadcasting as a whole.

“I think Alaska Broadcasters Association is comprised of both public and commericial stations throughout the state, in the cities and rural areas, and we have been working very hard to work with each other collectively to provide what broadcasters do in each community,” she said. “Whether or not , you're a public broadcast or not, it definitely impacts broadcasting in general, because what we do is so important and vital to the various communities. Period.”

About 27 licensees would be affected by the cuts. Overall, each public radio station stands to lose about $70,000 in state funds. 

The loss of the state funding could also impact the number of dollars that stations are able to secure in federal funding. Stations must often secure non-federal funds to be eligible for federal money.

Overriding any one of the 182-line item vetoes will require the support of at least a three-fourths supermajority vote by the Legislature.

Editor's note: KCAW’s Robert Woolsey contributed to this story.