May 10, 2012

Congressman cites "generous" pubmedia executive salaries in letter to defund CPB

Current has obtained a copy of the letter from Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) seeking to defund CPB, now circulating in the House for signatures of support. It is addressed to Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), chair of the Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the subcommittee's ranking member. Sen. James DeMint (R-S.C.) has authored a similar letter in the Senate.

May 9, 2012

Dear Chairman Rehberg and Ranking Member DeLauro,

It has come to my attention that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is requesting a $445 million advance appropriation for FY2015. This is an enormous sum of money, especially considering that President Obama’s 2010 bipartisan deficit reduction commission recommended funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting be eliminated completely.

CPB’s requested appropriation represents no reduction from its prior year appropriation level. While so many Americans are making sacrifices around the country to make ends meet, CPB appears unwilling to do the same. Even though media and information have become more accessible than ever, funding for CPB has exploded. Between 2001 and 2012, the CPB’s appropriated funding increased by nearly 31 percent, from $340 million to $444.1 million.

As you know, the country is more than $15 trillion in debt, and at the end of this year the government is expected to reach its legal borrowing limit once again.

We simply cannot afford to continue funding all of the programs that we have in the past. Significant spending cuts must be made in order to put the government on a path towards balancing its budget.

We face many hard choices ahead, but defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting should be one of the easier decisions to make. The FY 2013 appropriations bill that funds CPB has not yet been completed and I urge you to join me in working to permanently defund CPB.

As you know, last year’s appropriation bill instructed CPB to report to Congress about alternative sources of funding for public media by June 20, 2012. I look forward to that date and learning about how public media can use private sources of funding in the near future, as the overwhelming majority of their competitors in the media marketplace already do. No one is advocating that CPB stop operating, just that it stand on its own two feet when it comes to funding.

We are fortunate that in today’s media landscape, consumers have many news and entertainment choices, unlike when the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act to create and fund CPB was passed. And, public media outlets are thriving.

Federal funding for CPB’s highest-profile grant recipients, National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting Service, represent only a small portion of their overall budgets. NPR receives about 2 percent of its operating funds from CPB and federal funding for the Public Broadcasting Service represents about 15 percent of its system’s revenue.

According to its most recently available tax filings, Director and President Paula Kerger received $603,403 in reportable compensation in 2010. Former NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, who was forced to resign after the controversial firing of longtime analyst Juan Williams, was received [sic] $479,011 in compensation in 2011. Certainly, thriving media entities that can afford to pay their executives such generous salaries should not be asking taxpayers to subsidize them.

A vibrant, free, and independent press is essential to this country’s freedom. We are fortunate that Americans now have thousands of news, entertainment, and educational programs to choose from that are widely available on countless television, web, and radio outlets.

Now is the appropriate and necessary time for the government to end taxpayer subsidies for CPB.


Rep. Doug Lamborn
Member of Congress

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