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Entries for month: June 2005

House Restores $100 million to CPB budget, but . . .

June 23 2005 by Peter Morrill

On June 23 at 3:10 p.m. MDT/2:10 p.m. PDT, the US House of Representatives voted to restore $100 million to the public broadcasting appropriation. The week before, the House Appropriations Committee voted to cut public broadcasting funding by $100 million, to $300 million.

Unfortunately, in its June 23rd vote, the House refused to provide approximately $130 million needed to replace the satellite system PBS and its producers use to distribute their programming nationally. Congress funded the current system eleven years ago; it's set to expire in 2006. They also failed to restore funding to "Ready to Learn," which funds many well-known children's programs and outreach efforts.

The public broadcasting appropriations moves to the US Senate in coming weeks.

We'll keep you posted.

BACKGROUND

On June 9, a House subcommittee voted to slash funding for public broadcasting next year. On June 16, the House Appropriations Committee agreed with the proposed cuts, passing a proposed budget that amounted to a reduction of nearly 50 percent according to an article today in the New York Times.

The full House of Representatives could vote on the matter as early as June 22.

If these funding cuts hold, the effect on public television in general – and to Idaho Public Television in particular – would be severe. IdahoPTV would see an approximate loss of $418,442 to our yearly base operating grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). And public television in general would find fewer dollars to fund worthy national programming, local equipment grant assistance programs and educational services.

Is public broadcasting worth the federal government's investment of a little over $1.00 per citizen per year? The U.S. public certainly thinks so.

A Roper poll conducted earlier this year showed that 82% of the American public feels that the federal funds invested in public broadcasting is money well spent. The poll also showed that a majority of the public believes that the federal investment in public broadcasting should be greater. Other countries have known this for years. England invests over 12 times as much as the US for the BBC (England's public broadcasting), and they serve an area slightly larger than Minnesota. They realize that a strong public media and an informed citizenship is an important part of democracy.

If these cuts are indeed passed by the full House and Senate, public broadcasting in Idaho – television and radio – could lose $676,342 each year. That´s money that allows us to provide service to our rural state. This proposed cut could take effect as early as this fall.

What would these proposed cuts mean to Idaho Public Television and the citizens we serve?

The impact would be severe. Children´s classics, like Sesame Street, Clifford and Arthur, would be affected. Idaho-produced programs like Outdoor Idaho, Idaho Reports, Dialogue and The Idaho Debates would be affected. Such drastic cuts would reduce our ability to maintain our studios and equipment, and impact the education and outreach programs in our community.

So, folks, public broadcasting is at a critical point in its history. A free, democratic society only works if the people speak out and let their opinions be heard.

We encourage you to exercise that right…and responsibility.

Thank you for your help with this critical issue!

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