GPB official discusses public broadcasting

Photo by Carly Farrell

Photo by Carly Farrell

ALBANY, Ga. -- Georgia Public Broadcasting Director of Corporate Sponsorship Jo Pearse stood before the Albany Rotary Club at Doublegate Country Club Thursday and asked for two things from the crowd -- support and more support.

"Our biggest source of funding comes from listeners and viewers like you and me," Pearse said. "We only receive 14 percent of our funding from the state even though the programs we produce are all specific to the state of Georgia.

"We are worth sharing."

GPB is broken down into three separate elements -- GPB Radio, GPB Television and GPB Education.

As the network celebrates it 50th Anniversary, Pearse said more than 2.5 million people tune in each month to either GPB Radio or Television for shows like "Georgia Traveler," "Georgia's Business," and "Georgia Outdoors," in addition to special programming.

Pearse said the network also works "hand-in-hand with the Department of Education," to provide quality programming for the state's K through 12 classrooms.

"We create programs for kids and the lessons are always age appropriate," Pearse said of the GPB Education Network. "We are constantly adding video clips that are downloaded to classroom computers. The clips range from printable coloring pages to info on the nesting habits of coastal birds.

"These programs reach more than 116,000 teachers and 1.6 million students."

Not everyone, however, is enamored with public broadcasting. Just last week the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut off funding for National Public Radio.

The House proposal would ban federal funding to NPR and bar local stations from using federal money to buy programs, such as "Morning Edition" and "Car Talk," from the national network. The bill also prohibits stations from using federal money to pay NPR dues.

The bill does not affect funding for public television. A separate funding bill that passed the House last month stripped money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides grants to public radio and television. The Senate rejected it.

The Senate, which is still in Democratic hands, is expected to vote soon on the NPR bill.

"The only thing is question right now is the NPR funding, and it's hard to tell what will happen" Pearse said. "If the bill passes the senate, it would have an affect on us, but not too much because we are not overly dependent on funding from the federal government.

"But there is the possibility that we could see some small, rural stations go off the air."