January 30, 2012

Oklahoma legislators seek to eliminate all funding to OETA

Two state legislators, Sen. Anthony Sykes (R-Moore) and Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Tuttle), have proposed zero-funding for OETA, the statewide educational television network. While the move wouldn’t kill the state signal for Big Bird and ”Antiques Roadshow,” it would mean a lot fewer Oklahomans would be able to get it, the executive director of OETA said.

OETA is the only Oklahoma public media to receive state appropriations. KOSU and KGOU – public radio stations licensed to Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma – receive their state funding indirectly through those schools, not through appropriations. Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Tuttle, author of HB 3039, said the bill represents a reprioritization of state spending. She specifically cited the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, which needs state funding to protect the lives of children, as an agency with a higher priority than OETA.

John McCarroll, executive director for OETA, said eliminating the agency’s appropriation would certainly lead to less of the state getting the network’s signal. OETA’s state appropriation has gone from $5.2 million three years ago to $3.8 million this year.