Jun 19, 2009

House votes to restore PTFP funding

The House voted 259 to 157 last night to pass the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill. It contains the $20 million for the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program that had been in doubt. "This is a major victory for the public television community and represents a significant step toward the restoration of funding for local stations in this difficult economic environment," the Association for Public Television Stations said in a statement. PTPF funding has dwindled from $43.2 million in fiscal 2003 to $18.8 million in fiscal 2008. During its February Capitol Hill Day, APTS lobbied hard for PTFP money, saying the decline created a "critical backlog" of applications outnumbering grants 2 to 1. Now it's the Senate's turn. If the bill it passes differs from the House version, a conference committee will work to reconcile the differences and the full Congress will vote on that final bill.

WFSU and WMFE end reading service for the sight-impaired

More victims of budget cuts: Reading programs in Florida for listeners who are blind or sight- impaired. WFSU in Tallahassee says it's turning off its service July 1, and WMFE will discontinue local reading of the news while airing the national In-Touch network. The two stations and seven others in Florida are losing annual state grants; WMFE's was $38,800 a year. There's no more money to pay for equipment and volunteer coordination, WMFE President Jose Fajardo told the Orlando Sentinel. Established in 1993, the service's volunteers read local newspapers and magazines from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. Listeners received the readings through a special receiver, or on the secondary audio program channel of WMFE's DTV signal.