No decision yet on IPTV

Erin Harty
February 16, 2010

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's plan for Idaho Public Television could seriously affect the University of Idaho.

In January, Otter proposed phasing out all state funding for IPTV over the next four years. This may include cutting positions, closing satellite studios like the one in Moscow and reducing programming. Idaho State Senator Gary Shroeder, R-Moscow, said keeping IPTV running like it should would mean raising additional money or taking it from other sources. "My favorite would be to eliminate some sales tax exemptions to raise revenues," Shroeder said.

Shroeder said the Joint Finance Appropriation Committee is currently working on the budget for fiscal year 2011. He said January's numbers were coming in below estimates and the committee is waiting for February's numbers before the budget is set.

The state provides IPTV with $1.6 million. The entire budget of IPTV is $7 million, with the non-state appropriated funds coming from a Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant and private donations, according to a Feb. 14 story in the Magic Valley Times-News.

"(It's) another three weeks before they begin to make definitive decisions on this thing," Shroeder said.

Denise Bennett, an instructor in the Journalism and Mass Media department at UI, said her concern is with the new HD, state-of-the-art studio.

"If they approve the funding cuts, will they liquidate the equipment?" Bennett said. "I think that will affect our program. There is no way we would be able to fund something like that without the state's support."

Bennett's classes, two introductory production and one advanced production, each spend more than two hours a week in the studio.

Bennett said if they do leave the equipment but close the station, the classes would be left without engineering support and the program would suffer.

UI students currently produce two monthly programs — "Mostly Moscow" and "UI Voices" — out of the KUID studio. The public television station also offers internship opportunities for students.

Shroeder said the people of the state have sent a pretty loud message on how they feel about the closures to Boise and this may factor into the decision.

"I believe that Idaho Public television should be funded — it is the only thing on TV worth watching sometimes," Shroeder said.

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