The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on a spending plan for the current fiscal year which would cut $100 billion from the government’s budget plan. One of the items marked for elimination – to no one’s surprise – is public broadcasting.
The new Republican-controlled Appropriations Committee on Friday (2/11) zeroed-out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the spending bill heading to the House floor. The spending bill also makes deep cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency, housing programs, energy and transportation. “These were hard decisions,” said committee chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), who insisted that the spending reductions are necessary.
Democrats will fight the deep cuts, urging a more moderate approach, but the spending bill is likely to pass the House pretty much in its current form. Its fate is much less certain in the Senate, where Democrats still hold a majority. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) accused Republicans of using a “meat ax” in making spending cuts.
NPR CEO and President Vivian Schiller is rallying the troops to fight the budget ax. “The elimination of federal funding would be a significant blow to nearly 900 public radio stations that serve the needs of more than 38 million Americans with free over-the-air programming they can’t find anywhere else. It would diminish stations’ ability to bring high-quality local, national and international news to their communities, as well as local arts, music and cultural programming that other media don’t present. Rural and economically distressed communities could lose access to this programming altogether if their stations go dark,” said Schiller.
“We fully understand that, particularly in a time of economic challenge, it is appropriate for Congress to carefully examine every federal expenditure to assure its continued value to the American taxpayer. Eliminating the investment in public broadcasting would have a microscopic effect on the federal budget deficit but a devastating impact on local communities nationwide,” said Patrick Butler, President and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations.