Presidential Commission Co-Chairs Recommend Phasing Out CPB Funding - Broadcasting & Cable

Presidential Commission Co-Chairs Recommend Phasing Out CPB Funding

Other recommendations include reducing funding to Smithsonian and National Parks
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The
co-chairs of the President's National Commission on Fiscal
Responsibility and Reform has recommended zeroing out funding for the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting as one way to help save $200
billion.

The President created the bipartisan commission to identify ways to improve the nation's fiscal health.

According to
a draft of the proposals, released Wednesday, that cutting the $500
million worth of funding for NPR and PBS stations is just one of many
"painful" cuts that could help achieve that savings.

Others
include reducing funding to the Smithsonian and National Parks, selling
excess federal property, freezing federal salaries, cutting the federal
work force by 10%, including noncombat military
pay.

The guiding principle of the cuts was made clear in the co-chair's statement:

"America cannot be great if we go broke," and "The Problem Is Real -the
Solution Is Painful -There's No Easy Way Out -Everything Must Be On the
Table -and Washington Must Lead."

The
commission is made up primarily of an even number of House and Senate
Democrats and Republicans, with a handful of industry reps including a
former ad agency exec. It is co-chaired by former Republican
Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff
to President Clinton.

Republicans
have long argued for cutting back or eliminating funding for CPB,
suggesting it is government underwriting of a liberal-leaning media
outlet.

"As the steward of the federal investment in public media, CPB strongly disagrees with the co-chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, who propose without justification to completely eliminate funding for CPB and other public broadcasting programs," CPB said in a statement.

"From a yearly federal investment amounting to $1.35 per American, public broadcasting returns six times that amount in programming and services, creating 17,000 jobs in the American economy," CPB argued. "This important investment, through CPB and the other public broadcasting programs, should be supported for the benefit, education and enrichment of all Americans."

Free Press
was quick to speak up for noncoms. "Foreclosing on Sesame Street is not
the answer to reducing our national deficit," said Free Press President
Josh Silver. "It is inconceivable at a time
when commercial news is dominated by five-second soundbytes, yelling
pundits and little actual journalism, that this commission would
consider eliminating funding to one of the few remaining sources of
enterprise journalism and educational programming. PBS
and NPR are the most trusted media brands in America - and clearly the
benefits of noncommercial media warrant more public investment, not
less."

A spokesman
for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), one of the top Democrats on the
commission, was not immediately available for comment on whether he
supported phasing out support for noncommercial TV and
radio.

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