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IPTV: Friends Dollars Falling Short

John Pemble/IPR
Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and Governor Terry Branstad during budget hearings this week.

Officials with Iowa Public Television are asking for more than a quarter of a million dollars from the state.

The money is needed to help cover expenses that until now had been met by the network’s membership organization. 

Executive Director Molly Phillips says the state paid for PBS membership dues decades ago, but Friends of Iowa Public Television has been covering that for nearly 30 years. She says PBS dues have gone up and Friends has struggled to keep pace.

“Friends does a fabulous job in raising dollars,” Phillips says, “but Friends dollars have stayed about the same or gone down a little bit.”

Network dues went up 13 percent this year based on a formula that includes population and viewer contributions. At a statehouse budget hearing, IPTV asked for the state to pick up the increase, estimated at $282,000.

Phillips says the total bill for PBS membership is $3.2 million dollars, no matter what programs IPTV carries.

“We can not pick and choose. It is all or nothing," Phillips says, "and that includes the children's programs as well; 262,000 kids watch those shows each week.” 

IPTV is also asking for $185,000 to restore overnight programs on the network.