Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) spoke about the value of free, over-the-air programming, as well as public broadcasting, at the National Association of Broadcasters State Leadership Conference today (March 1) in Washington, D.C. Broadcasting & Cable reports that Udall drew "repeated applause" as he talked of the necessity of free TV and radio for those who cannot afford it, and those who need emergency information. He said while Americans pay "top dollar" for TV, "many cannot afford cable or satellite TV," and "not everyone has access to the Internet at home." He also called for an emergency communications network, which he said will be a priority of his on the Commerce Committee, as will getting broadband to rural areas.
UPDATE: More coverage, from The Hill. Udall said he will "fight for this critical funding as the budget process continues." The cuts could also hurt broadcasters who don't take federal dollars, Udall said. "We won’t just lose All Things Considered or Sesame Street. We would also lose a consistent source of innovation for the broadcast industry."