The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

January 28, 2013

OETA seeks funding hike despite growing opposition

OKLAHOMA CITY — The new director of Oklahoma’s public television network asked the Legislature on Monday for a more than 50 percent boost in state funding for the upcoming fiscal year, even as some lawmakers are calling to entirely eliminate state funding for the agency.

The Oklahoma Educational Television Authority’s new executive director, Dan Schiedel, discussed his agency’s funding needs before a joint House and Senate budget panel. The agency, which received about $3.8 million in state funding during the last two fiscal years, wants a $2 million increase to pay for statewide satellite distribution, more state legislative coverage and increasing employee benefits, among other things.

Schiedel touted the many educational programs aired on OETA, including programs like Sesame Street, as well as popular shows like Downton Abbey and Antiques Roadshow.

“We are so many different things to so many different people in the state of Oklahoma,” Schiedel said. “Children love OETA ... and they are impacted tremendously. These children have a safe haven when they tune in and watch OETA.”

But OETA also is facing opposition from a growing number of conservatives in the Legislature who argue the network is not a core function of state government. The agency already has seen its state-appropriated budget slashed from $5.2 million in fiscal year 2009 to $4.4 million in 2010 and $4.2 million in 2011.

The agency nearly faced extinction last year when members of the Republican-controlled House narrowly approved a bill that allowed OETA to continue to exist as a state agency until 2014.

This year, Rep. Tom Newell has introduced a bill to reduce state appropriations to the agency by 10 percent for the next two years, increasing to a 20 percent reduction after that until all state funding is completely eliminated.

“It’s a matter of priorities,” said Newell, R-Seminole. “Our goal is not to do away with the authority. It’s simply to do away with the direct appropriations.”

State appropriations account for about 36 percent of OETA’s budget. Most of the agency’s funding comes from foundation grants, in-kind contributions and viewer donations. OETA also has an endowment that contains about $26 million, but Schiedel said that would need to grow to about $100 million to be able to replace state funding.

House Speaker T.W. Shannon said there are several options for funding OETA in Oklahoma, but he noted several states do not subsidize public television.

“This is a matter the Legislature will have to decide collectively,” Shannon, R-Lawton, said in a statement. “Public television provides an important function, and all funding for state government must be examined as a whole, not in a vacuum.”

The chairman of the Senate budget committee that oversees OETA funding, Sen. James Halligan, said he supports giving the agency time to develop other sources of funding before deeply slashing their budget.

“I think that the sentiment that I hear expressed to me is that people want to reduce the funding and put them on a very shallow glide-path, such that they have a sufficient number of years to raise other funds,” said Halligan, R-Stillwater. “We don’t want OETA to no longer function in Oklahoma, but what we want to do with all the various entities that we fund in the state, we want to make sure we aren’t expending any more state dollars than we have to, to provide this function.”

Text Only
National and world
  • CDC Ebola web.jpg U.S. warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries

    “The bottom line is Ebola is worsening in West Africa,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who announced the travel warning.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast web.jpg Gaza truce comes after days of pushing for a deal

    Finally, less than an hour after all sides signed off on the precise and technical wording for a 72-hour truce, Kerry issued a statement and called a 3:30 a.m. Friday press conference to seal the deal before any party could back out.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Taiwan web.jpg Gas explosions kill 24, injure 271 in Taiwan

    The fires were believed caused by a leak of propene, a petrochemical material not intended for public use, but the source of the gas was not immediately clear, officials said.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Congress web.jpg Congress races to finish VA, highway bills

    House Speaker John Boehner accused Democrats of pursuing a “nutso scheme” of trying to seize on the border crisis to try and grant a path to citizenship to millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Illinois Unemployment_Hass.jpg As U.S. job market strengthens, many don't feel it

    "If the economy is getting better, I'm not sure for whom. It certainly hasn't trickled down to me." — Douglas Hunter, who earned $14 an hour before the Great Recession and now works three days a week for $9.25 an hour, mopping floors and fixing fryers at McDonald's.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • House Obama Lawsuit.jpg Republican-led House approves lawsuit against President Obama

    Just a day before lawmakers were to begin a five-week summer recess, debate over the proposed lawsuit underscored the harshly partisan tone that has dominated the current Congress almost from its start in January 2013.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Russia Putin web.jpg Sanctions could damage Russia

    The sanctions go further than earlier penalties — which had largely targeted individuals — by broadly limiting the trade of weapons and of technology that can be used in the oil and military industries. The EU also put its capital markets off-limits to Russian state-owned banks.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Libya web.jpg Thousands flee to Tunisia to escape Libya fighting

    Many diplomats, including the U.S. ambassador, have pulled out of the country. With the interim government paralyzed, the fighting threatens the planned opening session of the newly elected parliament on Aug. 4.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obit Robert Drew web.jpg Cinema verite documentarian Robert Drew dies

    Starting in 1960 with “Primary,” Drew produced and sometimes directed a series of television documentaries that took advantage of such innovations as light hand-held cameras that recorded sound and pictures.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obama Ukraine Russia_Hass_W.jpg GOP-led House approves lawsuit against Obama

    The suit will contend that Obama has exceeded his constitutional powers in the way he has enforced the 2010 health care law.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads