Here’s a quiz:

Which politician saved public broadcasting in his state?

Governor-now-Vice President Mike Pence from deep red Indiana?

Or Governor Jerry Brown from the leftist of the left, California?

“Indiana supplies about $3.6 million annually in public funding to public broadcasting. California provides zero,“ says Phil Meyer, President and CEO of Valley PBS here in Fresno.

One of the most conservative politicians in the country finds the value in documentaries and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Indiana is one of 37 states to fund public television and radio from its budget. California does not.

In 2014, Pence explained his reasoning in a speech to the Public Media Summit.

“I believe education is a state and local function; I believe the state has the primary responsibility for educating our children, and I will say from my heart, through all of my life one thing has been clear: Public television plays a vital role in educating all of the public, but most especially our children,” Pence told an approving audience.

So, what about the Golden State?

H.D. Palmer, the Deputy Directory of the California Department of Finance, says there hasn’t been public funding for public broadcasting since the mid-1980s, when it was slashed under Gov. George Deukmejian’s budget. He says when Brown started his second stint as governor in 2011, his priority was slashing the state’s $27 billion budget gap. Funding public media hasn’t been in the governor’s or legislature’s agenda.

When asked if he would like to see state funding restored, Meyer said. “Yes, I would. I think we make a strong case for that.…There are other services we provide in different languages for people not on the air, not broadcast that a lot of people are not aware of: workshops for parents, training, all kinds of different services that serve the public good.”

Meyer says only 22% of their $4.5 million dollar budget comes from the federal government, through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The remainder is from grants, and individual and corporate donations.

So, why should the state fund Valley PBS? Meyer makes his passionate plea.

“We are 40 years old this year,” Meyer tells GV Wire. “We’ve had a lot of great local productions. We hope to continue that. Valley’s Gold, our agricultural series, will start its fifth season early next year. We have a new documentary on Japanese internment camps in the Valley called “Silent Sacrifice,” coming in early 2018. And more great stuff from the national producers like Ken Burns, Great Performances, NOVA, News Hour, etc.”

photo: David Taub

About The Author

David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science.

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