OETA, Oklahoma’s public broadcasting station, continues to rely far more on taxpayer funding than PBS stations in most other states, lawmakers were told today.
In spite of budget cuts in recent years, an estimated 57 percent of OETA’s revenue comes from government sources, according to staff estimates. In comparison, PBS stations in 39 other states are generating a larger share of revenue from non-governmental sources.
“At a time when school budgets and road funding are stretched thin, we must ask ourselves if it makes sense to continue diverting money from those needs to projects like OETA, especially when other PBS stations have proven the station can raise significant money from other sources,” said Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Tuttle.
Osborn noted that PBS stations in surrounding states require fewer tax dollars as a share of total revenue. In Texas, just 28.5 percent of total revenue comes from the taxpayers, while in Colorado just 18.1 percent of the PBS budget is from government revenue. Missouri’s public television gets just 31.39 percent of its budget from taxpayers, and stations in New Mexico and Arkansas also rely far less on government funding than OETA does.
Over the last four years, OETA’s appropriation has been cut from $5.19 million to $3.82 million. However, the station has not made up the difference with support from non-governmental sources. Instead, OETA’s private funding has fallen from $6.9 million in fiscal year 2007 to $5.52 million this year.
“The truest measure of public support for OETA is the percentage of its budget coming from private sources. However, it appears OETA has failed to generate the private support its counterparts enjoy in other states,” Osborn said. “If the station does not enjoy enough public support to raise money from non-government sources, that makes it hard to justify continued taxpayer support for the station. While I think OETA is a good program and a worthy endeavor, every dollar that goes to OETA is a dollar that could be better used for core government services such as our schools, roads and public safety.”