Statements of Public Broadcasters on House Subcommittee's Vote To Cut Federal Funding for Public Broadcasting by 23 Percent

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Washington, D.C.; June 7, 2006 - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations voted to eliminate $115 million in federal funding for public broadcasting, representing a 23 percent decrease in the previously-approved 2007 appropriation.

The funding primarily supports the journalism, programming, community outreach and educational efforts of more than 1000 local public television and radio stations across the country; the appropriation is distributed by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. If passed by Congress, the cuts to CPB's budget would significantly reduce these activities at most stations. These cuts would also threaten the survival of numerous small stations serving as the "sole broadcasters" to remote regions and/or minority audiences. The impact would directly affect educators, students, community groups and millions of public broadcasting supporters.

Executives for the three independent national public broadcasting organizations issued the following comments:

John Lawson, President and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS):

"The action by the House subcommittee today shows a blatant disregard for the millions of Americans who voiced their support of public broadcasting to Congress last year. The subcommittee is also ignoring 67 percent of its colleagues in the House who voted last year to reject similarly disastrous funding cuts. I guess we'll have to start ringing phones on the Hill again.

"These cuts are also targeted to inflict maximum damage and contradict other goals of Congress. They eliminate funds for educational, commercial-free children's programming the same week the House is voting to curb TV indecency. They cut funds for public television stations to convert to digital broadcasting just six months after Congress voted to mandate that stations turn off analog broadcasting. They directly target funds for national programming production by PBS, NPR and independent producers. And they eliminate the funds we need to distribute our programming by satellite to local stations."

Kevin Klose, President and CEO of NPR:

"The impact of today's decision could resonate in every community in America. Each week, 30 million people vote to support local independent public radio stations by tuning in to news, information, culture and diverse voices they cannot find anywhere else. The subcommittee's vote ignores the critical role public radio holds in informing and strengthening our democracy. The decision also threatens the very existence of nearly 200 stations in 43 states who are the sole broadcasters to remote, rural and minority communities that face an even greater challenge in connecting with the world. As this appropriations process continues, we hope that listeners choose to make their own voices heard and let their elected officials know that public broadcasting is an essential investment."

Paula Kerger, President and CEO of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS):

"This markup represents significant cuts to public broadcasting that will drastically reduce the programming and services public television and public radio can provide to local communities and that are greatly at odds with important national goals.

"For example, the subcommittee proposes to eliminate Ready To Learn, a program that is scientifically proven to positively impact students' literacy skills. Also, the subcommittee is recommending the elimination of Ready To Teach, a program that many districts and states rely upon to help their teachers meet the 'highly qualified mandates' of No Child Left Behind.

"In addition, by rejecting digital funding, the subcommittee is jeopardizing public television's congressionally-mandated transition to DTV and endangering the development of new services to the public that are just becoming possible in the digital age. We sincerely hope that Congress will decide to support programming, services, education and innovation and restore funding."

Public broadcasting faced similar cuts last year when this Appropriations subcommittee recommended cutting $223 million in federal funding. A bipartisan majority in the House came to the defense of public broadcasting by voting to restore $100 million in funding after an intense grassroots campaign. The remaining $123 million in funding was subsequently restored by the Senate and accepted by the full Congress in December.

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