Politics & Government

KET sounds a warning: Trump’s proposed cuts would take away ‘essential’ funding

KET host Renee Shaw and guests spoke last December about opioid addiction on one of the station’s public affairs programs, Health Three60.
KET host Renee Shaw and guests spoke last December about opioid addiction on one of the station’s public affairs programs, Health Three60. KET

Kentucky Educational Television issued a statement Thursday warning that President Trump’s proposed budget cuts would endanger its mission to provide statewide programming and instructional services for schools.

Trump’s proposal would eliminate the $455 million-a-year federal appropriation for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the nonprofit that Congress created in 1967 to fund public television and public radio.

KET gets $3.4 million annually from the CPB, which is 15 percent of its operating revenue, spokesman Tim Bischoff said. The state of Kentucky provides 56 percent — although this funding, too, has been reduced by budget cuts in recent years — with the remainder coming from grants, private donations and other sources.

“Federal funding is essential to KET and all public broadcasting stations,” the Lexington-based station said in its statement. “These funds help make possible a majority of KET’s local productions, including “Kentucky Tonight,” “Comment on Kentucky,” “Kentucky Life” and more, as well as the development and delivery of digital educational resources.”

“KET is one of the nation’s largest public broadcasting networks and the largest nonprofit GED education publisher in the country. As one of the most-trusted sources for educational programs and services, KET is used in every Kentucky public school and by more than one million people each week.”

In a separate statement, CPB president Patricia Harrison said her agency’s federal appropriation amounts to $1.35 per citizen annually.

“It pays huge dividends to every American,” Harrison said. “From expanding opportunity, beginning with proven children’s educational content, to providing essential news and information as well as ensuring public safety and homeland security through emergency alerts, this vital investment strengthens our communities. It is especially critical for those living in small towns and in rural and underserved areas.”

However, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the Trump administration can’t ask American taxpayers to continue to support public television.

“When you start looking at places that we reduce spending, one of the questions we asked was, can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs? The answer was no,” Mulvaney said. “We can ask them to pay for defense, and we will, but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

John Cheves: 859-231-3266, @BGPolitics