Corporation for Public Broadcasting Faces Budget Cuts

Bush Administration Proposes Slashing CPB Budget in Half for 2009, Further Cut in 2010

The Bush administration proposed cutting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's appropriation in half in 2009 and by even more after that..

The proposal continues a trend in which Republicans try to slash the noncom budget,, sometimes invoking an alleged liberal bias. Democrats like Rep. Ed Markey (Mass.) push back (see below), and the cuts are eventually rescinded.

In the new fiscal-year-2009 budget, which was just released by the administration, the CPB appropriation for 2009 would be cut from $400 million to $200 million, and to $200  million in 2010 from $420 million, and no advance appropriation would be made for 2011.

The CPB's appropriation extends out three years as a way to better insulate it from politics. The CPB is the independent organization created by Congress to disburse the government appropriation that represents about 15% of noncommercial broadcasting's funding.

That works out to a cut of more than one-half of its funding, the CPB pointed out in a statement Monday.

“While we are acutely aware of the difficult budgetary choices facing the federal government, the cuts proposed in the budget for public broadcasting are draconian,” CPB president Patricia Harrison said. “Implementation of these severe cuts would impact millions of Americans who utilize public broadcasting on so many levels, beginning with educational programming and services. Further, it would work to degrade a 40-year partnership the American people overwhelmingly support and their elected representatives in Congress have repeatedly voted to strengthen.”

John Lawson, who heads the Association of Public Television Stations, echoed that concern: "This is the eighth year in a row that this President has tried to gut Public Broadcasting and this will be the eighth year in a row that we will have to persuade Congress to ignore his cuts,” said APTS President John Lawson. “This is some legacy the President is leaving for noncommercial media.” 

Then there was this from NPR CEO Ken Stern: “Just days ago, a national Pew survey cited public radio and NPR as the only growing broadcast news source for Americans seeking to learn about the presidential race.  Now, the drastic proposed cuts threaten to diminish this kind of information, context and community that we provide more than 30 million citizens weekly...  The last time funding was challenged, more than 2 million Americans who count on public broadcasting contacted their members of Congress and made their voices heard.  We welcome their renewed support as we respond to this challenge.”

Rep. Markey for one, Chairman of the powerful House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommitee, was prepared to fight for noncoms once again. 

"When is comes to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the president has tried again and again to slash funds for this program," he told B&C in an e-mail. "While much of daytime TV has shows that are inappropriate for young children, public TV remains an electronic oasis of child-friendly educational fare. In this light, the Administration’s proposal to slash funding is short-sighted and I fully expect Congress to reject it. "

"We owe America’s children and their parents this free, over-the-air resource," he said.