2 Tampa community channels on the verge of losing funding

By Dalia Dangerfield, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017, 1:05 PM EDT

Two community channels in Tampa are on the verge of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars next year.

  • Tampa Bay Arts & Education Network, Tampa Bay Community Network shut out of 2018 budget
  • Potential cuts are a significant chunk of both network's budgets
  • Community programs, jobs could be cut with loss of funding

The Tampa Bay Arts and Education Network and the Tampa Bay Community Network have been shut out of Tampa's budget in 2018.

Those who run the channels said it was a shock to learn they may not receive funding next year.

"We've done the things to prepare us for the future, yet we've had the rug pulled out from under us without anybody telling us why or taking a look," said Tampa Bay Arts & Education network CEO Scott Maiden.

Just last year, Tampa Bay Arts & Education Network received $108,000 from the city of Tampa to help run its community programs. 

Tampa Bay Community Network received $207,000.  Now that city funding could be gone.

The Mayors office said they sent out emails and warned the networks of possible budget cuts. However those who run the channels said they didn't expect the networks to be eliminated from the budget completely.

"It hurts us very badly," said Tampa Bay Community Network Executive Director Louise Thompson. "It may mean lay-offs. It may mean closure."

Maiden and Thompson said they have reached out to Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who presented the budget last month.

They said Mayor Buckhorn sent an email, but has refused to meet with them.

When Bay News 9 inquired, we received this statement from the Mayor's Office in Tampa.

"While we acknowledge the Tampa Bay Community Network and local public access television as an asset to our city, we already fund the city's own station which provides programming focusing on highlighting the city's rich history and attractions. As many saw during the recent budget presentation, we had to make some tough decisions and were no longer able to continue the same support we've provided in year's past."

The potential cuts are a significant chunk of both network's budgets. However, the city council still has to sign off on it.

The heads of the two community channels have been reaching out to council members to get support. They're still hoping the funding can be restored. 

Without funding, many community programs and jobs could be eliminated.