Now Cough

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Profiles in Courage. NOT

Deafening Silence

Well, so now the guns are trained on the money going to public broadcasting. Looks like the House and the Senate will come to some sort of compromise on money that goes to stations, PBS, NPR and ITVS...but there is a strong sense there could be deep cuts as a result:

Public Broadcasting Targeted By House
Panel Seeks to End CPB's Funding Within 2 Years

By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 10, 2005

A House subcommittee voted yesterday to sharply reduce the federal government's financial support for public broadcasting, including eliminating taxpayer funds that help underwrite such popular children's educational programs as "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow," "Arthur" and "Postcards From Buster."

In addition, the subcommittee acted to eliminate within two years all federal money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- which passes federal funds to public broadcasters -- starting with a 25 percent reduction in CPB's budget for next year, from $400 million to $300 million. Full article (reg. required)

Is anyone surprised?

Public radio and public TV have been quiet over the last few years as they were characterized by the right as liberal, left-leaning, biased and inaccurate. Do you ever see Kevin Klose on Meet the Press? Nope. Do you ever see any top public radio people debating the merits of public broadcasting (except for Terry Gross going mamma to mano with that hack Bill O'Reilly--and even then she was undercut by NPR's ombudsman!)?

So, this is how that silence ends up. Very, very late to the party in terms of public discourse about public broadcasting. I really don't know what public broadcasting has been doing--or getting--for all of its alleged 'government relations.' Controlling the message and the debate is critical. In this day and age what public broadcasting does everyday is simply not strong enough. In fact, that argument is naive to the extreme.

The clock is ticking. Let's see if public broadcasting can smartly marshal its forces, arguments, political acumen and message to turn this serious challenge around.


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