The House of Representatives has passed the stopgap appropriations bill (continuing resolution [CR]) that would keep funding the government but defund the FCC's network neutrality rules and its chief diversity officer, while zerioing out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which helps fund noncommercial TV and radio stations.
The Democratic-led Senate must now take up the bill. The President has threatened a veto, which raises the spectre of a goverment shut-down starting March 4, when the current CR expires.
While government funding makes up only about 15% of noncommercial TV And radio funding overall, execs there have said it is a crucial 15%, particularly for smaller stations and in a down economy where pledges have gone south as well.
In a statement following passage, and the defeat of a Democratic-led amendment that would have restored noncom funding, PBS said in a statement that the cuts "threatens millions of citizens throughout America with the loss of services that they rely on, especially parents and children." PBS Presidenty Paula Kerger said the service would continue to work with stations to make their case to Congress.
Last week, noncom TV and radio stations formed a new group, the Public Media Association (PMA), to make that case. The PMA Saturday echoed PBS' concern in its own statement, saying the cuts could kill small-town stations. "If this House-passed bill stands, it would endanger hundreds of public radio and television stations that serve as educational, informational and cultural lifelines for millions of people nationwide, and it would be a death sentence for stations serving rural and small-town America," said PMA president Patrick Butler."