Over the last few weeks many of our viewers and listeners have commented or otherwise shared their thoughts on the University of Arizona’s budget reduction for Arizona Public Media.
As the CEO of AZPM and because AZPM is a journalistic enterprise, I am obligated to ensure that accurate information is communicated to the community. In recent days we have noted inaccuracies that have been made in telephone calls and letters to us and in media reporting on this topic.
Budget reductions pose real challenges for any nonprofit organization. I understand how much our community values AZPM and its educational programs and services, and I appreciate that emotions about the budget reduction are running high. However, I want to take this opportunity to communicate the facts.
After a reduction of nearly $200 million from the state of Arizona over the last few years, the UA must adjust to new revenue realities. AZPM is an operating unit of the UA and is therefore affected when the university’s funding changes. Limited state and tuition dollars are critically needed to meet the goals the UA and the state have set for educating students and performing research.
Using student tuition dollars to fund the public service stations of the university is not sustainable. The public must become more involved as the principal funder of AZPM, since it is the public that most directly benefits from the organization’s programs and services.
The $2 million budget reduction assigned to AZPM will be phased in over five years to help AZPM to preserve the quality of its services. The UA administration is aware of the value AZPM returns to the university and the community, which is why they will continue to support AZPM with a cash contribution and in-kind services valued at more than $2.3 million per year, even after the full impact of the reduction has been realized in fiscal year 2019. At this level, the UA will remain the largest single financial stakeholder in AZPM.
AZPM’s budget plan for fiscal year 2015 has addressed the first year’s reduction, which amounts to a 4 percent reduction in operating revenue, and I am pleased to report that no jobs have been lost. Audience favorites from PBS and NPR will remain intact, because our viewers and listeners fund PBS and NPR programs directly through their membership support for AZPM.
AZPM is fortunate that its radio and television stations are some of the most watched and listened-to public stations in the country. The UA administration is working with AZPM to develop new revenue opportunities, both on and off campus.
To be clear: Your support is critical to AZPM now, and it will continue to be in the future. If you’ve been a viewer and listener, AZPM needs your ongoing financial investment, to ensure that Southern Arizona’s educational radio and television stations continue to thrive.
Jack Gibson, who has 34 years of experience in public media, has been the director and general manager of AZPM for the last eight years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org