Public media were quick to decry the Republican-led House
vote Thursday to cut government funding of NPR dues and national programming.
Republicans say that funding is a "nicety, not a
necessity," as one Republican put it following the vote.
"At a time when other news organizations are cutting back and the voices of pundits are drowning out fact-based reporting and thoughtful analysis, NPR and public radio stations are delivering in-depth news and information respectfully and with civility," said interim CEO Joyce Slocum. "It would be a tragedy for America to lose this national treasure."
"This legislation, which would destroy a public radio system
that has served the American people well for 40 years, has been passed by the
House without the benefit of a single hearing on the subject," said
Patrick Butler, president of the Public Media Association (PMA). ""While
it has been portrayed as responding to the will of the American people, the
legislation in fact defies the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans,
who have consistently said they support continued funding of public
broadcasting and view it as the second-best use of tax dollars, exceeded only
by national defense."
Butler called on
the Senate to reject "this most unwise and unworthy legislation." Butler
is also president of the Association of Public Television Stations. PBA was
launched last month
to lobby against noncom budget cuts.
A recent PBS study found that a majority of Republicans, as
well as Democrats, opposed zeroing out funding for noncommercial broadcasting,
but the NPR-targeted bill is also driven by the sting a couple of weeks
ago that caught an NPR fund-raiser disparaging conservatives and saying NPR
didn't need government funding.
"Today, the House passed a bill that would
significantly restrict public broadcasting stations' ability to acquire
programming that they feel best serves the needs of their communities,"
said Patricia Harrison. "At a time when international events, such as the
recent uprisings in Libya and the earthquake in Japan, have a direct and
immediate impact on this country, public media serves as a trusted source for
informative, in-depth coverage of international, national and local news.
Rather than penalize public broadcasting, the debate should focus on strengthening
and supporting this valuable national asset."
The White House has come out against the cuts, and the
Senate is not expected to pass the bill.