Idaho Public TV’s history a roller-coaster ride

The history of Idaho Public Television – the public TV network that consistently has the highest percentage of viewers among its state residents of any in the country – has been a story of ups and downs, in funding and programming, as politics, public information and public funding have intertwined over the years. Now that the network has passed its 50th birthday, Royce Williams, who as an Idaho Fish & Game employee in the early 1980s helped create “Outdoor Idaho” with Idaho PTV’s Peter Morrill, chronicles that history, in which varying levels of state funding long has played a significant role.

“State funding for IdahoPTV can be graphed to resemble a rollercoaster track with a historic fear level of 6.8 out of 10,” Williams writes. Yet, he notes, “Using figures from the National Transportation Association’s average costs for resurfacing a mile of interstate highway through a city like Boise in 2016 ($32,000,000), IdahoPTV’s general fund appropriation ($2,314,000) would cover the cost of about 382 feet of road, not enough to get you off the on ramp to Mountain Home.”

Overall, he writes, “State appropriations to IdahoPTV boil down to $1.42 per Idahoan per year in the FY 2016 budget. In a list of 14 similar states, the average annual cost per person is $2.36. Idahoans are getting a pretty good deal.” You can read the full article here: