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Mar 21, 2011

Who will be affected, and by how much, in House bill to defund pubradio programming

An analysis of HR 1076, the bill to prohibit federal funding for National Public Radio that won House approval on a March 17 party line vote, details which congressional districts have the most on the line if the legislation is enacted.

Alaska Republican Don Young, whose at-large district encompasses 26 public radio stations, has the most at stake -- more than $5 million in CPB grants from 2009. Young was one of 11 members of Congress, seven of whom were Democrats, who did not vote on the bill, according to the official tally of the roll call.

Minority staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee crunched the numbers to assess the legislation's impact and found that 414 stations with listeners in 280 congressional districts would be affected. These stations provide about 7,800 jobs, according to the analysis.

HR 1076 won't actually cut off CPB funding to local public radio stations, but it would prohibit these stations from spending any federal dollars on NPR dues or other national programming. It also prohibits NPR itself from receiving federal grants and eliminates CPB's grant programs backing national services for minority audiences, such as Radio Biling├╝e and Native Voice One networks, and special initiatives such as the StoryCorps oral history project, which produces regular features for NPR's Morning Edition.

Three of the Republican lawmakers who crossed party lines to vote against the measure represent districts that received six-figure sums of federal pubcasting aid in 2009. Reps. Patrick Tiberi of Ohio, whose two local stations qualified for nearly $472,000 in CPB aid; David Reichert of Washington State, with one CPB grantee receiving more than $126,000; and Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, also with one station receiving nearly $118,000. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, the one GOP member who voted "present," represents a district with two pubradio stations backed by CPB grants that totaled more than $172,000.

Correction: An earlier version of this post erroneously reported that Alaska's Rep. Don Young voted for HR 1076.

Vivian Schiller will speak at U-Texas online journalism event

Former NPR chief exec Vivian Schiller will keep her April 1 speaking engagement at the University of Texas's international symposium on online journalism, even though she accepted the invitation prior to her March 9 resignation. U-Texas J-School professor Rosental Alves, organizer of the annual conference, reached out to Schiller after her abrupt departure and asked her to discuss her vision for online journalism, based on her experiences at NPR and NYTimes.com. “The most important work that she has done was moving NPR into the digital age,” Alves tells The Daily Texan, UT's student newspaper. “That experience alone would be very relevant for us who are concerned with the future of journalism in this country.”

Additional keynoters are Meredith Artley of CNN.com, Madanmohan Rao of the Asia Pacific Internet Handbook, and Warren Webster of Patch Media. Full schedule here. Links to a live stream of the event will be posted here.

House Labor/HHS subcommittee hearing on pubcasting funding alternatives canceled

The Capitol Hill hearing on alternative means to fund public broadcasting, which had been announced for April 6, has been canceled due to scheduling issues, House Appropriations Committee spokesperson Jennifer Hing tells Current.

Many different takes on the fight over public radio funding

After last week's House vote on federal funding for public radio, the debate continued to rage on op-ed pages and blogs. Here's a sampling from pubcasting veterans and other observers with special insights:

William Drummond, a founding editor of Morning Edition who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley's J-School, remakes his case for policymakers to forcibly "wean public broadcasting off the federal dole." [Drummond mentions his 1993 commentary in Current.]

Fox News pundit and former NPR news analyst Juan Williams agrees that pubcasting should lose its federal aid, but for different reasons. In today's edition of The Hill he writes of "the culture of elitism that has corroded NPR’s leadership."

Native Public Media's Loris Ann Taylor outlines what federal funding means to the 39 Native-owned stations broadcasting to "vast stretches of tribal lands" unserved by any other media. "Politicians are quick and generous when it comes to paying platitudes to rural America," Taylor writes on the New America Foundation's blog. With sweeping statements that "[roll] together any community outside the suburbs into some great, sepia-tone mass of byways and farmland," lawmakers leave out any practical understanding of how their policy decisions affect real people. "The actual concerns of those in rural communities are often neglected; those in tribal lands are often ignored."

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank contrasts the phoniness of House Republicans' "emergency" legislation to defund public radio with the Democrats' "trivial pursuit" of a bill to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by year's end. "The lack of grown-up behavior" by political leaders "is driving Americans to despair, " he reports. "In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, only 26 percent said that they were optimistic about the future when 'thinking about our system of government and how well it works.' That’s less than half the level of optimism felt in 1974, during Watergate."

Meanwhile, both Stephen Hill of Hearts of Space and Mike Henry of Paragon Media Strategies have laid out separate proposals for reforming public broadcasting.

Jessica Clark of American University's Center for Social Media surveyed coverage of the public media funding fight last week and posted this comprehensive round-up of links.

Meet the Cardozos, a public-media family

"New Public Media Networks: What's Becoming and What Might Be" is a new animated video from American University's Center for Social Media that touts the importance of public broadcasting by focusing on one household. In it, members of the Cardozo family — Jenna and Jose, their 10-year-old daughter Liv and twins Max and Carla, 17 — each use pubmedia in very different but beneficial ways, from having fun on PBS Kids to addressing community issues through involvement in the "Not in Our Town" outreach. Max even creates an app that spreads worldwide via his local pubcasting station. The eight-minute film was created by Jessica Clark, director of the Future of Public Media Project at the center, and Ellen Goodman, law professor and co-director of the Rutgers Institute for Information Policy and Law.

WNET soon to launch local news program

WNET/Thirteen in New York City is launching a local news show, MetroFocus, on Memorial Day, the New York Times is reporting. “One of the futures of public television is making local connections,” station President Neal Shapiro told the paper. “We’ve done a great job of being a national producer; we can do a much better job of being a local producer.” It'll launch as a website, then a 30-minute monthly or weekly show, then a mobile app.