Friday, June 10, 2005

Republicans defunding PBS

Originally uploaded by mwthomas87.

My little boy is just starting to get interested in some of the childrens’ shows on PBS like Barney, so imagine my delight when I saw this story in the NYTimes today.

A House Appropriations panel on Thursday approved a spending bill that would cut the budget for public television and radio nearly in half and eliminate a $23 million federal program that has provided some money for producing children's shows that include "Sesame Street," "Clifford the Big Red Dog," "Between the Lions" and "Dragon Tales."

By a voice vote, the House Appropriations subcommittee adopted a measure that would reduce the financing of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the organization that directs taxpayer dollars to public television and radio, to $300 million from $400 million. The subcommittee also eliminated $39 million that stations say they need to convert to digital programming and $50 million for upgrading aging satellite technology that is the backbone of the PBS network.

The Republicans obviously see this as payback for public broadcasters who they deem to be too “liberal.” Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the Bush-appointed head of CPB who has been leading a Republican takeover of PBS programming, warned stations earlier this year that if they fail to cooperate with his plans to “balance” their programming it could prompt the Republican-controlled Congress to significantly reduce financing. Now we see that threat coming to fruition.

"It is clear the G.O.P. agenda is to control public broadcasting or to defund it," said Representative David R. Obey of Wisconsin, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. "House Republicans have gutted funding for public broadcasting stations across the country."

This is utterly contemptible. It’s clear that this administration cares nothing about running up budget deficits, so the argument that they are making these draconian cuts in such a tiny budget item to save money is ludicrous. This is just them being spiteful.

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