While cutting millions for public broadcasting elsewhere, Gov. Scott spares $2.8 million to cover government
It's been so busy here in Feed Central, I haven't had time to do a blog post on a story which ran in the St. Petersburg Times on Monday, showing that Tallahassee's WFSU will get $2.8-million in the next state budget as every other public broadcaster in Florida loses funding due to a veto by Gov. Scott.
The money provided is for a specific purpose; to fund The Florida Channel, The Florida Public Radio Network, the Florida Crossroads series and connected efforts. These are outlets often focused on uncritical explorations of the work done by Florida lawmakers and government officials -- WFSU's general manager calls The Florida Channel the C-SPAN of the state government.
Gov. Scott's office says these outlets provide a "basic core government function" that other public broadcasters do not. But supporters of public broadcasting point out that radio and TV stations across the state are key distributors of these outlets, airing their programming for local audiences. They also create their own, localized programming speaking to the same issues.
This might be all about proximity. The Florida Channel is broadcast in many legislators' offices and is well known to lawmakers; perhaps this is an example of familiarity helping in a decision.
WFSU's general manager points out that they also lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funding for their TV and radio station from Scott's veto of nearly $4.8 million for Florida's public broadcasters; the money which remains is confined to the specific projects.
The debate is another permutation of a longstanding issue in public broadcasting. While some say the government shouldn't be subsidizing a broadcast system, others insist such programs offer material no commercial broadcaster would provide, pointing to a decades-long history.
You get the sense, speaking to officials at Florida public broadcasting outlets, that they would have preferred the chance to have this discussion before Scott made his veto decision -- giving them an opportunity to make their case for retaining the level of support legislators originally voted to give them.