Public broadcasters stormed Capitol Hill Jan.10 in a bid to stave off the new Republican congressional leadership’s attempts to gut federal funding from public TV and radio.

About 100 station execs appeared at a press conference convened by South Carolina Educational TV prexy Henry Cauthen to warn of the consequences of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s plan to “zero out” the Corp. for Public Broadcasting from the federal budget. The press event preceded individual lobbying forays to selected members of the House and Senate.

Cauthen said a third of all public TV stations will go dark if GOP budget-cutting plans are approved. Moreover, elimination of CPB’s annual $285 million allocation would create a “domino effect” that eventually would lead to the demise of public broadcasting, Cauthen predicted.

The station executives also dismissed GOP claims of a “liberal bias” in public broadcasting.

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