The end of PBS?

Public broadcasting meets private interests

By Zach Weinstein
Online Editor

Think of your favorite childhood show.  Think of everything the cast of “Sesame Street” taught you as a child, how good of a neighbor Mr. Roger’s was, how many stories you discovered through the “Reading Rainbow.”  Think of how awesome it was to learn science with “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” The source of all these shows is in trouble and you may be able to help.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is a non-profit created by Congress in 1967 to fund and promote public broadcasting. Their website (www.cpb.org) describes the CPB as “…helping to support the operations of more than 1,250 locally owned and locally operated public television and radio stations nationwide, it also funds the creation and acquisition of diverse and innovative programming that’s useful, educational, and cultural.

CPB is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television, and related online services.”  Unfortunately, it is now in danger of losing its budget. In an effort to correct the deficit, the House, due to the Republican majority, has just passed a budget that, if it passes in the Senate, would severely impact the funding that public programming receives.

The plan submitted by House Republicans would rescind the remainder of the CPB’s budget for the current fiscal year and eliminate it completely for the next year resulting in cuts of $430 million.  While large organizations such as NPR which only receive about 2% of their budget from the CPB would not be severely affected by this, many small, local stations would be as some receive as much as 50% of their budget from the CPB.  PBS receives approximately 15% of its budget from the CPB. While PBS would certainly be able to continue broadcasting, it would have to make adjustments to how it is run, including layoffs and possibly changes in programming.

The simple fact of the matter is that public broadcasting is in danger because the Republicans feel that it is ideologically opposed to their party. Colorado Representative Doug Lamborn stated, “…public broadcasting is a friend and protector of liberal issues and political correctness, at the expense of free speech and balanced news reporting.”  This statement was in reference to NPR specifically; however, this does not justify going after public programming as whole or even at all.  The relatively small amount of money saved would not be worth what is being lost.

Education in the United States is already an issue, and it goes to show what our representatives’ priorities are when they are willing to cut funding for a free, widespread source of public education, especially when the amount of money that is being cut is less than a third of what the national deficit increased by since last year
While PBS will live on no matter what the outcome of this budget proposal  is, but it will be hurt by it and a number of its affiliates and smaller stations may not.

Eliminating the CPB’s funding will do next to nothing to help reduce the deficit will negatively impacting access to education programs.  This is an issue that is all too easily ignored. It is not about a war or people’s rights but it does show a disturbing trend; that of our representatives being willing to cut beneficial programs with no gain for their constituents. Public broadcasting is something that needs the support of the public, if only in the form of an email to your Senator.