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A Painful Reminder. A Moment for Change

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WASHINGTON — On Monday, President Donald Trump proposed to slash all federal funding for public broadcasting, a significant revenue source for local NPR and PBS stations across the country.

The Trump administration’s fiscal-year-2021 proposal seeks to eliminate funding for public broadcasting over a two-year period. The budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) would be cut from its current annual level of $465 million to $30 million by FY2021. This is designed, the budget proposal says, “to conduct an orderly transition away from federal funding.” The budget would then be zeroed out the following year.  

The CPB, a nonprofit corporation created by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, distributes federal grants to help keep local public television and radio stations on the air. Recent public polling rated PBS and its 350 member stations as the most-trusted nationally known institutions. Respondents said the taxpayer money funding those stations was “well spent.” Previous attempts to cut CPB funding by Republican administrations and Congress have met with widespread bipartisan condemnation.

Free Press Action Campaign Director Candace Clement made the following statement:

“Slashing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s funding is hardly a surprising move from a president who believes the press is the enemy of the American people, and who seeks to punish any journalist who asks challenging questions of his administration.

“But Trump’s threats ignore the real value and widespread popularity of publicly funded noncommercial media. At its best, public-interest media provides an antidote to the misinformation and propaganda spread by online platforms and commercial outlets. People throughout the United States benefit from the federal investment in public media, even though stations receive far less than their counterparts in leading democracies.

“The $465 million in federal spending that keeps the lights on at local public-media stations represents less than two-tenths of 1 percent of the commercial media’s advertising revenues. By comparison, the U.S. advertising market is expected to top $290 billion in 2021. Commercial online, TV and print media will account for nearly $250 billion of that. At a time when journalism is under constant threat and being replaced by low-quality, hyper-targeted, ad-driven content, we need to invest more in the few remaining trusted sources for local, noncommercial news and information, not cut back.

“Members of Congress should listen to the voices of their constituents — millions of whom have weighed in time and again in support of public-media funding — and reject Trump’s dangerous budget. Public and community media are treasured local institutions that are far more popular than this president — as he will soon be reminded.”

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