In praise of NHPTV’s unique mission

“I didn’t know NHPTV does that, too!” We’ve heard this from people for years. Since New Hampshire Public Television’s state funding has been eliminated, and many of our unique services suspended, we believe our value to New Hampshire – extending far beyond the TV screen – will become all the more apparent.In tough economic times, there are many tough budget decisions to be grappled with and made and we acknowledge that our state faces difficult choices. So the loss of one-third of NHPTV’s annual budget ($2.7 million) may not seem like a cut with serious consequence to our state. However, that funding helped provide educational opportunity to young and old in New Hampshire. And because of NHPTV’s reach in our region, those state funds also transmitted the Granite State’s uniqueness and the NH advantage inside and outside of our state.With this funding cut, two New Hampshire-centric programs are on hiatus, including our public affairs program, NH Outlook. It provided in-depth analysis of state issues that’s not available elsewhere online or on TV, no matter how many channels you have.And this fall, 32 New Hampshire high schools will be smarting over the hiatus of the 29th season of Granite State Challenge. More than 5,000 students from around the state have taken the Challenge over the years, playing this academic quiz competition for a television and web audience in a league akin to our favorite sports games.NHPTV’s broadcast license specifies its public service responsibilities. Because of this mission, everything we do is directed at benefiting the residents of our state, not commercial interests. Financial support to NHPTV is an investment, not a business transaction. Commercials don’t support us (they can’t, by law); our viewers do. That’s why we offer an array of award-winning, locally produced and focused programs, as well as PBS and national programs.And that’s why, beyond TV, we’ve filled an unmet need by offering K-12 educational services – many of which meet state curriculum guidelines – to schools, educators, parents and students – free of charge. Along with that, we offer workshops in communities all over the state for families and child care providers on literacy, health, parenting, math and problem-solving skills, reaching tens of thousands of families.At a time when there’s a lack of distinction in what’s available on TV, NHPTV offers the citizens of the Granite State a real advantage in three realms: our commercial-free, locally focused and PBS TV programs; our educational engagement resources (on-air, online and in the community); and a state-of-the art public safety communications infrastructure. NHPTV is New Hampshire’s only statewide, locally owned and operated TV network, and we reach 98 percent of the state. We’re available free, over the air, for all, including those who lack access or cannot afford cable TV.I could cite our statistics for pages on end. But here’s what we need our viewers (over 1 million a month, with 90,000 children watching our trusted educational commercial-free kids programs a week) to know: We receive the majority of our funding from individuals, businesses and foundations. Their support keeps us on the air and in the community providing services that enrich and benefit each of us, directly and indirectly.NHPTV is facing its future head on and redefining how to get things done in this era of fewer resources. Despite this devastating loss of funding, NHPTV and public broadcasting will be preserved in New Hampshire.NHPTV’s board of directors believes our state and country need a strong nonprofit public media system with non-partisan news, cultural and educational programs, and one that provides a focus on local interests and concerns. That’s why New Hampshire Public Television was created over 50 years ago, and why it needs and deserves your support now and into the future.Mark Collin, senior vice president and chief financial office of Unitil Corp., is chair of New Hampshire Public Television’s board of directors.

Categories: Opinion