Alaska’s radio, TV contribution on the chopping block

Alaska’s radio, TV contribution on the chopping block

Dunleavy’s budget would cut state funding for public media.

The state of Alaska contributes about $3.5 million annually to support public radio and television programs across the state. Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget proposal would cut this state assistance out completely.

Last week, Dunleavy released his budget, which followed up on his campaign promise to align the state’s revenue and expenditures rather than dip into savings. To do so, he proposed an unprecedented $1.6 billion cut to the operating budget.

[Experts: State could lose tens of thousands of jobs if budget proposal goes through]

By cutting out public media funding, Alaska would save $3.5 million in the next fiscal year. This equates to roughly 0.22 percent of total proposed cuts. But what would Alaskan’s lose?

Each year this $3.5 million grant is distributed in varying amounts to Alaska’s 27 public radio stations and seven television stations.

For example, KTOO-TV received an allocation of $75,700 for the current year. The KTOO radio station received $77,041, according to an an Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission document.

This state grant is not the sole source of funding for public media in Alaska. The state grant accounts for about 7 percent, or $400,000 of Alaska Public Media’s total funding. Alaska Public Media includes KSKA 91.1 FM in Anchorage and produces a number of radio shows including the “Midnight Oil” podcast. Alaska Public Media also receives federal funding, about $1 million or 18 percent of its budget. The vast majority, 75 percent, or $4.2 million of Alaska Public Media’s funding comes from community donations.

[After 40 years of balloons, magic and radio, Jeff Brown retires from KTOO]

It’s difficult to say how these cuts might affect the different public media organizations in Alaska.

“A station like the KTOO complex will probably survive,” Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau said. “The more rural parts of public radio may not…I of course oppose these cuts. I will fight for that small subsidy. Public broadcasting in Alaska has been a lifeline to rural Alaska.”

Hannan said public radio is especially important to rural communities because these markets are not ideal for private radio to be successful. Hannan noted that some have argued that rural Alaskans can just use the internet to stream the radio, but high costs and lack of infrastructure make that impossible in some places.

“Certainly in certain parts of Alaska the idea of just beaming it out there won’t work,” Hannan said of internet radio.

Hannan called the proposed cut “short sighted.”

“They’ve found there’s a public safety element. In most of Alaska there is no network service that will provide weather forecasts and tsunami warnings that public broadcasting puts into every corner of Alaska.

Much like the University of Alaska system that is facing a $155 million cut, leaders at the different networks will have to make difficult decisions on how to implement the cuts at their respective radio stations. That could result in cuts to programming, job positions or other areas.

Of course, the budget is not final and the House and Senate will work on the budget.

Other Southeast Alaska radio station grant allocations for the current fiscal year include: KCAW in Sitka received $78,123; KSFK, Petersburg received $76,499; KHNS, Haines received $74,876; KRBD, Ketchikan received $78,123; KSTK, Wrangell received $75,417.


• Contact reporter Kevin Baird at 523-2258 or kbaird@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alaska_kev.


More in News

Vehicles are unleaded at the Seward Harbor after being moved from Lowell Point on Sunday, May 22, 2022 in Seward, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management)
Lowell Point barge services move 110-plus cars to Seward

The services were covered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough and ended Monday

Anglers fish on the Kenai River on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Watershed Forum receives matching grant from Conoco

The Kenai Watershed Forum was given a grant from ConocoPhillips to fund… Continue reading

A beach on the eastern side of Cook Inlet is photographed at Clam Gulch, Alaska, in June 2019. The Alaska Board of Fisheries is implementing new shellfish regulations in Cook Inlet. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Fish and Game closes East Cook Inlet razor clam fisheries

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the Cook Inlet… Continue reading

Anastasia Scollon (left) and Willow King (right) stand in The Goods + Sustainable Grocery and Where it’s At mindful food and drink on Monday, May 16, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sustainable shopping finds new home in Soldotna

The Collective used to operate out of Cook Inletkeeper’s Community Action Studio

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Legislature modernizes 40-year-old definition of consent in sexual assault cases

‘Alaska took a gargantuan step forward in updating our laws,’ says deputy attorney general

Project stakeholders cut a ribbon at the Nikiski Shelter of Hope on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Stakeholders celebrate opening of Nikiski shelter

The shelter officially opened last December

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with reporters Thursday about the state’s budget at the Alaska State Capitol. Dunleavy said lawmakers had sent a complete budget, and that there was no need for a special session.
Dunleavy: No need for special session

Governor calls budget “complete”

A magnet promoting the Alaska Reads Act released sits atop a stack of Alaskan-authored and Alaska-centric books. Lawmakers passed the Alaska Reads Act on the last day of the legislative session, but several members of the House of Representatives were upset with the bill, and the way it was passed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
In last-minute move, Legislature passes early reading overhaul

Rural lawmakers push back on Alaska Reads Act

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Connections honors more than 100 graduates

The home-school program held a ceremony Thursday in Soldotna

Most Read