We're only a few weeks into the 112th Congress, and Republicans are already attempting to pull the plug on public media.
In a budget proposal made public on Wednesday, House Republicans announced plans to zero out all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the nonprofit responsible for funding public media including NPR, PBS, Pacifica and more.
If the Republicans are successful, it would be a tremendous blow to the entire public interest media sector.
Republicans are disingenuously claiming that they need to cut funding for public media because of budgetary constraints. But what they fail to highlight is that national public broadcasting is remarkably cost effective, providing local news and information, free of charge, for millions of viewers while only receiving about .0001% of the federal budget.
More to the point, it's nearly impossible to put a price tag on the actual value of public broadcasting.
Public media is one of the last bulwarks against the corporate media where the combination of consolidation and profit-motive has long since shifted the focused to infotainment rather than substantive news. In many rural and less affluent communities, broadcasters rely on federal funding to provide the only available high-quality news and public affairs programming.
Without public media, corporate media monopolies would increase their already large control of what we see on television, hear on the radio or read in the newspaper.
This outcome should deeply worry all of us. The increased accumulation and consolidation of corporate power is a threat to our democracy. And nowhere is this more evident than in our media.
At a time when media consolidation is shrinking the number of perspectives we have access to over the airwaves and when newsrooms are shrinking, we need more diversity in our media not less. And we simply cannot afford to lose what public media brings to the table.
Conservatives have longed for any opportunity to defund NPR, PBS and other public media. And with Speaker Boehner wielding the gavel, it looks like they may finally get their wish.
Don't let Congress pull the plug on NPR and PBS! Tell them reject cuts to public broadcasting.