Friday, June 24, 2005

More PBS

As I mentioned in a previous posting, public broadcasting made a lot of noise about feared cuts in funding. While I have some reservations about public broadcasting (mentioned in the other posting), the noise was heard and the House of Representatives restored $100 million to the funds for public broadcasting. But that, apparently, was not enough, based on a letter from PBS President Pat Mitchell posted on the www.pbs.org.
Here's the text:
After an unprecedented mobilization by supporters, parents, educators and "viewers like you," the House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly and in a bi-partisan way, to partially restore cuts made earlier this month by a House Committee. Having spoken with many members of Congress myself, I know it was your voices that made the difference for them in this difficult budget year.

We are enormously grateful to the members of the House who supported this critical, though partial, restoration of funding for public broadcasting. We want to thank Representatives David Obey (D-WI), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Jim Leach (R-IA) and a bi-partisan group of members for their diligent efforts on our behalf. We are also delighted that our PBS member stations were able to generate the support of their communities who weighed in effectively with their members of Congress.

Despite this victory, we remain very concerned that essential federal funds were nonetheless eliminated for our Ready To Learn service which helps low-income parents and caregivers, for the interconnection system that links PBS with local stations and for the transition to digital broadcasting mandated by Congress.

With these cuts, the financial burden of maintaining these operations will fall entirely to local public television stations, decimating their ability to finance local programming, educational outreach and even to air PBS programming. In terms of the digital transition, without restoration of funds, many local PBS stations, especially those in rural areas, will be unable to complete the transition and will go dark when their analog signal goes off.

With the future of the public broadcasting system still at stake, we will continue to work with APTS and NPR to ensure that full funding will be restored as the bill moves through the U.S. Senate and to conference committee in order to ensure the future of public broadcasting, the only media devoted to editorial independence, to local community service and to educational children's and prime time programming.

We thank you for all of your efforts to preserve PBS and your PBS stations, and ask you to stay with us as we work to protect funding for public broadcasting through the end of this year's legislative process.

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