Our friend Wayne Hoffman is at it again, arguing in a guest column that state financial support for Idaho Public Television is actually "a crime against those of us who believe government is too big, too powerful and too intrusive in our lives."
And he quotes Ezra Taft Benson to make his argument. What Wayne doesn't perhaps realize is that Mr. Benson was a member of the board of directors that initiated public television in Utah, and that he appeared on its productions for many decades.
Ezra Taft Benson definitely saw the benefits of public television.
But more to Wayne's basic argument: that state funding for the infrastructure of public broadcasting is wrong, because it's not the proper role of government, as it competes with commercial television stations.
Many of us believe that the State of Idaho's investment in the arts, culture, libraries, museums and Idaho Public Television has borne great results. It is easy for those of us who live in the Treasure Valley to sometimes forget that access to cultural, educational and civic opportunities simply doesn't exist in many parts of our far-flung, rural state.
Programs like Sesame Street, Nova, and Globetrekker, and our local Idaho series like Outdoor Idaho, Dialogue, Dialogue For Kids (D4K), Idaho Reports and the Idaho Debates give Idahoans a better understanding of our complex world.
And, frankly, many of these shows are not programs the commercial stations are in a position to provide. Take, for example, our coverage of the Idaho Legislature, Idaho Legislature Live. Idahoans can now watch on-air gavel-to-gavel coverage of the House and Senate proceedings, as well as online coverage of all the standing committee hearings including video from the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee. For many, this would be deadly dull television and would not register a blip on the Nielsen ratings. But it is part of our mission to provide such information to the citizens of Idaho, and for many folks, it is their best connection to representative government.
The Idaho State Broadcasters Association agrees. For the fourth year in a row, this consortium of commercial TV and radio stations is helping to provide major funding for the broadcast of the upcoming legislative session. We are not competitors; we are partners united to connect Idaho citizens to their elected representatives in Boise.
As we look to the future, we are excited about the potential of our many new digital channels, and of our expanded efforts on the Internet, where you can now watch video streams of many of our national and local shows, just by going to video.idahoptv.org.
There is one thing that Wayne definitely got right: He acknowledged that "the folks at Idaho Public Television produce excellent, stylish and substantive local programming."
We thank him for that vote of confidence, and we will do our best to continue to give Idahoans the quality television and online media they have come to expect.
Read Wayne Hoffman's column, "What’s proper government role: That’s the real question."
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