UPDATE: Well that was quick. Less than an hour after this article was posted, ETV is said to have changed its mind and decided to pay for the satellite time in order to broadcast the Democrats’ State of the State response to other stations.
(Original post below)
Throughout her term, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has always maintained an appreciation for freedom of speech — if the speaker agrees with her, anyway. But after being rebuked in the courts of law and public opinion for her ham-handed attempt to suppress Occupy Columbia’s message back in November, it seems the governor and her cronies have learned to use budget austerity to their advantage and more subtly censor opponents.
South Carolina Educational Television, whose board was appointed by Haley last year after she fired the previous commissioners, told Democratic lawmakers last week their caucus would have to pay if they want equal time to broadcast their response to the governor’s State of the State address, to be given by Rep. Bakari Sellers, on ETV this Wednesday. The story was first reported by FITSNews and independently confirmed by Palmetto Public Record.
“Due to recent budget cuts, we don’t have the mechanism in place to feed the speech out to the media as we have in the past,” ETV told the Democratic Caucus via email. As a result, the caucus was forced to shell out hundreds of dollars for the satellite time in order to broadcast their speech to the state.
These “budget cuts” seem awfully convenient given that they were ordered by the governor herself. Back in August, ETV was forced to cut 15 full-time and two part-time positions after a 10 percent budget cut. Lawmakers blocked Haley’s move to cut ETV’s entire budget, but the network is back on the chopping block in the governor’s 2012 budget.
The governor sacked the educational and government access channel’s entire board last year, replacing them with tea party activists such as Karen Martin of Spartanburg and Rob McCoy of Health Springs. Haley said she was excited that her appointees “share her vision and priorities for ETV,” which apparently involve draining its funding and silencing opposing messages.
So while the Haley Administration apparently has no problem subsidizing Walmart through tax cuts and giveaways, it seems the same cannot be said for funding educational broadcasting and free speech.
Palmetto Public Record will bring you full coverage of Gov. Haley’s State of the State address today and tomorrow on the website and on Twitter at @PalmettoRecord.