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WASHINGTON -- According to press reports, Sen. Jim DeMint and Rep. Doug Lamborn are circulating letters in the Senate and House to drum up a new round of opposition to public media. The letters propose cutting all federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and its nearly 1,300 local stations, arguing that the $445 million CPB budget is an “enormous” cost to taxpayers.

In reality, for every dollar Americans pay in taxes in 2012, only a fraction of a penny will go to the CPB, and for every federal dollar invested in public broadcasting, local stations raise $6 on their own. In addition, this funding helps support more than 21,000 American jobs that contribute more than $1 billion to the national economy. This tiny federal investment is vital to helping support programming that commercial media won’t showcase and provides an important foundation for stations around the country to build on.

The letters come just a month before the CPB is supposed to deliver a report to Congress outlining how it could operate without federal funding. This timing is particularly troubling in light of a recent federal appeals court decision that opened the door to political advertising on NPR and PBS stations, because cutting off public funding for public broadcasting could force some stations to accept ads and abandon their noncommercial mission.

Free Press Public Media and Journalism Campaign Director Josh Stearns made the following statement:

“Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which amounts to a fraction of one percent of the overall U.S. budget, is money well spent. Members of Congress who consider this an ‘enormous’ expense need to spend more time with ‘the Count’ on Sesame Street.

“Sen. DeMint and Rep. Lamborn have either lost their calculators or are trying to score political points. Either way, they’re not representing their constituents or serving their country well by playing political games with public broadcasting. Members of Congress should take time to recall how last year’s defunding threats met with an extraordinary public backlash.

“The majority of Americans strongly support federal funding for public broadcasting. Studies show that this is true of both Republicans and Democrats. Indeed, for nine years running the public has ranked PBS as the best expenditure of taxpayer dollars after only one other agency — the Department of Defense.”

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