Bloomberg news: Public TV Agency Would Lose 13?f Funds in Bush Pla

From: Andrew Johnson

Date: 2006-02-08 23:10:40

Public TV Agency Would Lose 13?f Funds in Bush Plan (Update2)… 1w Public TV Agency Would Lose 13% of Funds in Bush Plan (Update2) Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) — President George W. Bush proposed a 13 percent cut in funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, seeking to reduce spending that has already won congressional approval and prompting a protest from the agency. A fiscal 2007 spending plan that Bush sent to Congress today cuts $53.5 million from $400 million in grants to public TV and radio stations from CPB, the agency that funds public broadcasting. The budget, released publicly today, also cuts $50 million from $400 million approved for 2008. The reductions “disappointed” CPB Chief Executive Officer Patricia Harrison, who said in a statement she plans to join public broadcasters as they try to persuade congressional budget writers to restore the funds. A lobbying campaign last year succeeded in reversing similar cuts. “The Bush White House is taking an axe to help chop off Big Bird’s head and turn Elmo out into the streets,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a public-interest group. “The administration wants to starve the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio, curtailing their ability to critically report the news.” The 2007 budget also would end $29.7 million in funding for TV stations to convert to digital signals, which offer clearer images and sound, CPB spokesman Michael Levy said. In addition, it would eliminate $34.6 million provided last year to improve satellite technology used to connect PBS with local stations. Both programs were already approved by Congress. Fight Looms When all the cuts are considered, Bush’s budget would reduce total CPB funding by 25 percent to $346.5 million in 2007 from $460.3 million in 2006, the budget documents show. “Oscar the Grouch has been friendlier to the Sesame Street characters than President Bush,” said Representative Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who helped lead last year’s successful effort to head off funding cuts. “I don’t understand why President Bush would propose more regressive cuts for this critical children’s educational TV programming.” Harrison’s Washington-based nonprofit agency passes along most of its funding to public TV and radio stations. The money helps to finance PBS, NPR and the production of shows such as “Sesame Street” and “Nova.” Bush’s budget submission kicks off an annual process of laying out a federal spending plan for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Typically, budgets include plans for several subsequent periods, or “out years,” which are not binding. Budgets for public broadcasting grants previously were submitted two years in advance. “We intend to mobilize grass-roots forces across the country to persuade Congress to ignore the president’s request,” said John Lawson, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, which represents more than 1,000 local stations. Last year, a Republican plan to cut the agency’s budget by 25 percent was reversed in the House of Representatives after lobbying by broadcasters and a Washington rally of viewers and listeners. Former Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson resigned from the corporation’s board last November after an internal audit found he had added conservative programming and recruited senior staff based on their Republican ties. To contact the reporter on this story: Neil Roland in Washington at… — No virus found in this outgoing message. Checked by AVG Free Edition. Version: 7.1.375 / Virus Database: 267.15.2/253 – Release Date: 07/02/2006

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