Oversight Board recommends transfer of WIPR to private operator
The Financial Oversight and
Management Board for Puerto Rico recommended that the government take the
necessary steps to transfer the rights and ownership of the Puerto Rico Public
Broadcasting Corp. also known as WIPR, to a private, nonprofit entity.
In a letter to Gov. Ricardo
Rosselló, Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and House Speaker Carlos J.
Méndez-Núñez, the Oversight Board stated its support of the broadcaster’s
effort to communicate and provide informative, cultural, public interest
programming for the people of Puerto Rico but noted that a transfer of
ownership “can provide increased growth opportunities, enhance the programming
offering provided to the people of Puerto Rico, and save the government money.”
“The Oversight Board supports
public broadcasting but the resources to finance the corporation as a private
nonprofit can and should come from outside the government so that the government
can prioritize its spending on the services it is uniquely best-positioned to
provide,” said Oversight Board Chairman José B. Carrión.
The Oversight Board noted that
public broadcasting corporations across the United States are typically owned
by private nonprofit entities (such as foundations, membership groups, and
public universities) and are funded by federal funds and private donations and
recommended that WIPR should similarly be independently owned and operated,
while also shielded from political interests.
The Public Broadcasting Corp.’s budget
is currently funded by appropriations from the General Fund, federal funds, and
other funding. However, most states
provide limited or no funding to public broadcasting corporations, the U.S.-appointed
States that do provide funding to
public broadcasting corporations, provide a significantly lower percentage of
the public broadcasting corporation’s total operating budget.
The Oversight Board issued its
recommendation on the Public Broadcasting Corp. pursuant to Section 205(a) of
PROMESA, which allows it to submit recommendations to the governor or the
Legislature on actions the government may take to ensure compliance with the
Fiscal Plan or to otherwise promote the financial stability, economic growth,
management responsibility and service delivery efficiency of the Government.
Under Section 205(b), the government
has 90 days to provide an answer to the Oversight Board’s recommendation.