Jun 17, 2005

Through the progressive advocacy website, more than 769,000 Web users have sent messages to Congress backing pubcasting: "Congress must save NPR, PBS and local public stations. We trust them for in-depth news and educational children's programming. It's money well spent."
The proposed cuts to CPB funding, if enacted, could trigger "a spiral of death for public broadcasting," said KCPT President Bill Reed on today's Democracy Now.
A coalition of citizen groups including Common Cause and Free Press has urged CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson to postpone the board's vote on a new CPB president, now planned for Monday or Tuesday. The groups' letter yesterday suggests that Tomlinson's supposed candidate for the job, State Department official Patricia Harrison, got "inappropriately favorable consideration" because she and Tomlinson have worked together on U.S. propaganda efforts overseas.
The House Appropriations Committee approved a bill last night that cuts pubcasting's total 2006 funding by more than 40 percent. It would reduce CPB funding from $400 million to $300 million, eliminate the $23 million Ready to Learn program and deny requests for $39 million in digital transition funding and $50 million to replace the aging pubTV satellite system. But the committee approved a Democratic amendment that restores the traditional congressional practice of funding CPB two years in advance, earmarking $400 million for 2008. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) told Reuters he will try to add funding for pubcasting when the bill comes to the House floor. The full House is expected to take up the bill next week, according to the Los Angeles Times. Public broadcasting executives told the New York Times that the controversy over CPB has damaged pubcasting's standing on Capitol Hill. The Senate, which has a long record of being more generous to public broadcasting than the House, could work for better numbers when the two houses meet later this summer to craft a final version of the bill.