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OETA State Budget Slashed by Nearly $1 Million


- 19 Percent State Budget Reduction Will Impact Local Services -

In the final days of the Oklahoma legislative session, in an effort to overcome a severe state revenue shortfall, lawmakers slashed budgets for most state agencies including OETA.

For the new fiscal year that begins July 1, 2010, OETA will receive $994,023 less in state funding to operate than it did one year ago, a reduction from $5,191,383 to $4,200,360. This is a 19 percent reduction in state support when compared to the 2009 fiscal year and is the largest state budget reduction in history of OETA.

About half of the total funding for OETA comes from annual legislative appropriations, which was, before the cut, already less than any other state supported public television network in the nation. While OETA is authorized to operate with 84 employees, the statewide network currently has just 67 employees - the lowest of any such statewide network.

State funding for OETA provides for the network’s infrastructure including four full powered transmitters in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Eufaula, and Cheyenne, and 14 translator stations along the northern and southern borders of the state with satellite and fiber signal distribution. In addition, state funds provide for OETA’s operational expenses including utilities, maintenance, staff and local productions. Private funds from viewer contributions, foundations and corporations provide for national programming and related expenses from the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and other program vendors.

“In the past, this 50-50 partnership between the public and private sectors has been responsible for OETA being ranked among the top public television networks in the nation,” OETA Executive Director John McCarroll said. “However, this drastic state budget reduction will require some major changes in our staffing levels. This will mean reduced local productions and reduced maintenance of our vast statewide digital network.

“We will do everything within our power to minimize the effects of this state budget reduction to our 1.8 million weekly viewers and more than 20,000 contributors. We’re hopeful that the economy improves and that this major state budget reduction can be restored next year,” he added.

OETA's State Budget Slashed By Nearly $1 Million, Odyssey Programming Guide 37(1), 1