The Obama administration signalled that it was open to cutting the government outlay for NPR, but it opposes the bill coming before the House of Representatives today that will prohibit all federal funding to the news network and for stations to purchase its programming.

The Office of Management and Budget released a statement this morning that says that the House bill, expected to come to a vote later this afternoon, would “unacceptably prohibit” federal funding.

“As part of the President’s commitment to cut spending, the President’s Budget proposed targeted reductions in funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which provides a small amount of funding for NPR, and the administration has expressed openness to other spending reductions that are reasonable.  However, CPB serves an important public purpose in supporting public radio, television, and related online and mobile services.  The vast majority of CPB’s funding for public radio goes to more than 700 stations across the country, many of them local stations serving communities that rely on them for access to news and public safety information. Undercutting funding for these radio stations, notably ones in rural areas where such outlets are already scarce, would result in communities losing valuable programming, and some stations could be forced to shut down altogether.”

Meanwhile, a host of general managers of public radio stations have sent a letter to Congress warning that with the bill’s prohibition on the use of any federal funds for national programming, “local public radio stations will no longer reliably provide the community information and context so necessary to cities and towns challenged by change and faltering economies.” They noted that shows like “This American Life” and “Marketplace” started with federal seed money, and that the withdrawal of support would threaten such projects as “StoryCorps” and “This I Believe,” as well as ventures like the Public Insight Network.

A link to their letter is here