Friday, April 10, 2015

Big budget cut threatens emergency broadcast system - Diane Everson, Wisconsin State Journal

Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget is filled with significant cuts, most notably a 13.5 percent reduction in state aid to the University of Wisconsin System, about $300 million. That would harm our world-class university system. Those proposed reductions overshadow a proposed cut to the budget of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board (ECB), a small agency whose operations are vital to our state. The ECB is an independent state agency that operates Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Extension. The ECB provides the technical support necessary to maintain and operate the towers, transmitters and the fiber-optic and microwave broadcast networks that beam public television and radio programming across the state. That infrastructure is the backbone for the state’s Emergency Alert System, which broadcasts national, state and local emergency information, including tornado warnings, other severe weather alerts and Amber Alerts. The proposed cut to the ECB budget would affect those who rely on commercial radio and TV for their weather alerts, too, because those radio and TV stations get their weather alerts from the Emergency Alert System.

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