Bush Budget Boosts FCC; NEA Steady

The Federal Communications Commission emerged a winner, and the National Endowment for the Arts a loser, in the federal budget submitted to Congress last week by President Bush.

Under the new budget, the FCC would receive a remarkable 15% increase in fiscal year 1992 – from $115 million to $132 million. If approved by Congress, the hike would allow the FCC to hire 50 more fulltime staffers.

By contrast, the NEA’s budget would remain steady at $174 million under the Bush plan, with no increase even for inflation. NEA, still reeling from attacks that it funded allegedly “obscene” art, would for the first time receive less coin than the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Broadcasters will be happy to know the Bush budget makes no mention of imposing a “spectrum fee,” a proposal that the White House has supported in the past. Nor does the White House call for “license transfer fees” once a broadcast property is sold. The budget does, however, support auctioning portions of the non-broadcast spectrum for private use.

Other government agencies with sweetened coffers would include:

* The U.S. Information Agency, which oversees Voice of America, Radio and TV Marti, and all other government broadcasting, in an annual budget increase of $53 million to about $1.05 billion;

* The National Telecommunications & Information Administration, whose coin would be hiked from $15 million to $19 million to continue its spectrum reallocation analysis;

* The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which receives its funding two years in advance, would be allocated $260 million in fiscal year 1994 under the Bush budget, compared with $253 million in 1993.

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