CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State funding cuts, and a sharp downturn in corporate underwriting is forcing West Virginia Public Broadcasting to cut back on programming -- and more severe cuts could be coming, Executive Director Dennis Adkins told legislators Thursday.
"We're seeing erosion in our ability to provide a quality public broadcasting product to the citizens of West Virginia," Adkins told the House Finance Committee. "To put it bluntly, our expenses are outpacing our revenues."
Adkins said overall state appropriations to public broadcasting have been cut 9 percent over the past two budget years, while corporate underwriting of programming has dropped 17 percent in the past year.
"A lot of our corporate sponsors are holding onto their advertising money due to the economy," Adkins said.
He said commercial broadcast stations in the state would be having the same financial problems had they not benefited from campaign advertising generated by five statewide elections in the past 18 months.
"A lot of commercial stations would really be hurting without those political dollars," he said.
The financial strain has forced the Educational Broadcasting Authority to put the "This Week in West Virginia" weekly television news production on hiatus, and to cut the number of news updates aired on public radio, he said.
If the outlook does not improve, the next cuts could include national programming on public television and radio, and ultimately, shutting down translator towers that allow public radio and television broadcasts to reach rural areas of the state, he said.