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Cash Windfall An Opportunity To Privatize SCETV




South Carolina lawmakers are debating how much money the state’s educational television network (SCETV) should receive from the sale of $43.2 million worth of airwave space in the Greenville, S.C. market.

According to reporter Cassie Cope of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper, the network wants to “use money from that sale to pay for facilities projects over the next several years, including building improvements and transmission tower upgrades.”

Lawmakers – who are in the midst of concluding negotiations on the state’s $29 billion budget – have other ideas, though.  They believe SCETV – which receives a $20 million annual budget from taxpayers – is only entitled to receive $35 million from the sale.

They want to take the remaining $8.2 million and add it to the $1 billion in new money they are already spending in the coming fiscal year (which begins on July 1).  Oh, and all of that new money doesn’t include the $826 million annual tax hike they approved to bail out the state’s pension fund – or a new gas tax that will drain $1.8 billion from the Palmetto State’s economy over the next six years and $600 million a year (every year) thereafter.

Our view?  SCETV should be allowed to keep every single penny of this $43.2 million under one condition: That it be privatized by the end of the decade, freed from its reliance on taxpayer dollars.

To be clear: We appreciate SCETV and the work it does – and have plenty of close ties to the network.  Having said that, the production of television and radio content is simply not a core function of government – at any level.

“It goes without saying that public radio and television perform a service. Maybe even a valuable one,” we wrote back in 2011.  “But is taxpayer-funded media a core service of government? Absolutely not …”

Accordingly, we would encourage state leaders to use this opportunity to ween SCETV off the taxpayer dole once and for all.



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