It seems that I write on this topic annually, but you need to know that the barbarians are still at the gate.
Once again federal funding for Public Broadcasting is threatened, and the threat is more serious than ever before. Last month the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee (Labor-HHS-Education) passed out of subcommittee a bill that, if signed into law, would phase out federal support of the public broadcasting system. Over a three year period, funding would be totally eliminated, threatening the very existence of many stations in markets the size of ours.
Federal funding accounts for about 22% of WTVP's annual budget. Loss of federal funds translates into lost jobs, lost quality, and lost programming. And make no mistake about it; the potential for cuts is real as already evidenced by the loss of $57 million over the past two years.
Currently public service media in the US is funded through a highly successful public-private partnership that generates $6 in non-federal funding for every $1 of federal investment. The federal investment of $1.35 per citizen in public media (about half a penny a day) compares with investments of $63 in Japan, and $84 in Great Britain. President Reagan blessed this public-private partnership model of public broadcasting in America in a memorable conversation with Ken Burns about Ken's masterpiece, THE CIVIL WAR. "Government should provide the spark," Reagan said, "and the private sector should do the rest."
While it's only the beginning of the House's work on this bill, the Subcommittee's action has signaled that we have a lot of work to do if we are to be successful in keeping federal funding for public broadcasting.
You can help by letting Congress hear your voice. Go to our website to find contact information for our Senators and Congressional delegation. Let them know what you think about federal funding for public broadcasting - pro or con. You, your friends, family and neighbors can also join the campaign to save federal funding for public broadcasting. Sign up at 170MillionAmericans.org. This is going to be a fight that lasts all year long and we will need as many supporters as possible to prevail in the end.
Thank you for caring and acting...again.
President & CEO, WTVP (Retired)