By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
WASHINGTON – Free Press reports that a U.S. congressional subcommittee has slashed the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s budget by $100 million and voted to “zero out” all federal money for CPB within two years. The cuts include $23.4 million earmarked for “Ready to Learn” children’s educational programming – the money that keeps shows like “Sesame Street,” “Arthur,” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog” on the air.
What does this mean? It could mean no more Big Bird, and eventually no more “Morning Edition” on NPR.
CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson, a George W. Bush appointee, has already tried to withhold PBS programs that don’t agree with his socially conservative political philosophy. In May, the New York Times reported that Tomlinson hired consultants to document a perceived “leftist tilt” in the PBS program, “Now with Bill Moyers,” and according to the Times report he has worked to prevent efforts that would make it more difficult to politically stack the CPB board, which oversees all public television and radio. “Apparently dissatisfied with this effort to make public broadcasting more ‘fair and balanced,’ the Republican majority is now trying to bankrupt the entire system,” says the Free Press report.
Here are some ways that you can Reach OUT and stop these cuts:
Call your U.S. Representative and tell her or him to restore full funding for public broadcasting. Let your representative know that you value fair-minded broadcasting, and that you appreciate the truly “fair and balanced” offerings of PBS far more than the supposedly balanced offerings of the corporate media. To find your U.S. Representative, visit Project Vote Smart at www.vote-smart.org or call the U.S. Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Send a letter to Reps. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) and Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), the chairman and vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, letting them know that you oppose these cuts and that you don’t want partisan interference in public broadcasting. The Congressional Switchboard will help you with contact information for Reps. Lewis and Regula as well.
Finally, Free Press has begun an online petition calling for the resignation of Kenneth Tomlinson, which they will present at the next CPB board of directors meeting on June 20. To find and sign the petition visit Free Press at http://www.freepress.net. While on the site, you can learn more about Free Press’ efforts to increase public involvement in public broadcasting and other campaigns to give the public more control over the media which is supposed to be serving it.