CommunityPam's House Blend

House Repugs want to clip Big Bird's wings

Reagan-era wingnut and head of CPB, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson wants to “correct” what he and other knuckledraggers see as liberal bias.

The AmTaliban House members are flexing their muscles on yet another cultural issue. Under the guise of cutting spending overall, they decided to try to put the screws to public television. They’ve been bellyaching about the supposed liberal influence, particularly in children’s programming. (See the over-reaching on the Postcards from Buster flap).

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 cuts in financing went significantly beyond those requested by the White House and are likely to be approved next week by the full Appropriations Committee and then by the House. Lobbyists for public television and radio say they hope to have the money restored in the version of the bill prepared by the Senate, where they have support from several senior Republican members. The final legislation will be the product of negotiations between the House and Senate.

…”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.”

…The head of the Republican-controlled [Corporation for Public Broadcasting], Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, has pressed public broadcasting to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias. That has prompted public broadcasting leaders – including the chief executive of PBS – to object that his actions pose a threat to editorial independence.

Some public broadcasting officials have begun to express concern that the perception of political interference by the corporation would discourage individuals from making financial contributions to the stations. Mr. Tomlinson, meanwhile, has said that the perception that the stations are not balanced could prompt the Republican-controlled Congress to significantly reduce financing.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding