(1) ESTABLISHMENT AND UTILIZATION OF NETWORK.—The department may establish a television network connecting such communities or such stations as it designates. For this purpose, it may lease facilities in the name of the state from communications’ common carriers and use such transmission channels as are necessary; however, if the department decides, upon investigation, that it could more economically construct and maintain such transmission channels, it may design, construct, operate, and maintain them, including a television microwave network. The network shall be utilized primarily for the instruction of students at existing and future public and private educational institutions and of the general public, as practical. The origination and transmission of all programs over such networks shall be as directed under policies approved by the State Board of Education. The department may cooperate with and assist all local and state educational agencies in making surveys pertaining to the use and economics of educational television in the fields of primary, elementary, secondary, or college level education and in the field of adult education, and may assist all public agencies in the planning of programs calculated to further the education of the state’s citizens.
(2) POWERS OF DEPARTMENT.— (a) The department may encourage:
1. The extension of educational television network facilities.
2. The coordination of Florida’s educational television with that of other states and with the Federal Government.
3. The further development of educational television within the state.
(b) The department shall provide through educational television and other electronic media a means of extending educational services to all the state system of public education, except the state universities, which provision by the department is limited by paragraph (c) and by s. 1001.26(1). The department shall recommend to the State Board of Education rules necessary to provide such services.
(c) The department may provide equipment, funds, and other services to extend and update both the existing and the proposed educational television and radio systems of tax-supported and nonprofit, corporate-owned facilities. All stations funded must be qualified by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. New stations eligible for funding shall provide a first service to an audience that is not currently receiving a broadcast signal or provide a significant new program service as defined by State Board of Education rules. Funds appropriated to the department for educational television and funds appropriated to the department for educational radio may be used by the department for either educational television or educational radio, or both.
(3) PROHIBITED USE, PENALTY.—
(a) None of the facilities, plant, or personnel of any educational television system that is supported in whole or in part by state funds shall be used directly or indirectly for the promotion, advertisement, or advancement of any political candidate for any municipal, county, legislative, congressional, or state office. However, fair, open, and free discussion between political candidates for municipal, county, legislative, congressional, or state office may be permitted in order to help materially reduce the excessive cost of campaigns and to ensure that the state’s citizens are fully informed about issues and candidates in campaigns. The provisions of this paragraph apply to the advocacy for, or opposition to, any specific program, existing or proposed, of governmental action which includes, but is not limited to, constitutional amendments, tax referenda, and bond issues. The provisions of this paragraph shall be in accordance with rules of the State Board of Education.
(b) Violation of any prohibition contained in this section is a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(4) DUTY OF DEPARTMENT.—The department is responsible for identifying the needs of the state system of public education as they relate to the development and production of materials used in instruction. When such identified needs are considered to be best satisfied by the production of new materials, the department may commission or contract for the production of such materials.