Rep. Hesselbein Warns: Cuts to Public Broadcasting Threaten Public Safety
“The governor’s cuts of $27 million per year and 24 positions put the state’s emergency communication systems in peril.”
MADISON – Gov. Scott Walker’s severe cuts to the Educational Communications Board may target public broadcasting, but they actually threaten public safety, Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) warned today.
“The governor’s cuts of $27 million per year and 24 positions put the state’s emergency communication systems in peril,” Rep. Hesselbein said. “Public radio and TV shows and their production are completely funded by private donations, and have been since 2012.
“The resources the governor seeks to remove from the ECB pay for Amber Alerts, emergency communications, and the maintenance of towers and transmitters on which the whole state relies. I urge the Joint Finance Committee to treat this as an urgent matter of public safety.”
The ECB operates an interconnected statewide system that includes 4,500 miles of fiber optic cable and microwave relays. This interconnects ties together with the Wisconsin Public Radio/Wisconsin Public Television broadcast network, which includes:
- Six television and 34 radio transmitter sites;
- Six TV translator sites;
- 28 NOAA weather stations;
- Microwave relay towers across the state.
This interconnected system is the backbone which delivers Emergency Alert System/Amber Alerts throughout the state and serves as the State Relay source for commercial TV and radio stations.
This system requires maintenance and repair 24/7 by specialized people who would be among the subjects of the governor’s cuts.
Walker suggests that the ECB make up for the cuts with private donations. To meet the governor’s projections, the ECB says that impossible fundraising goals would have to be met: a 31 percent increase in radio donations and underwriting and a 30 percent increase in TV donations and underwriting for 2016 alone.