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Trump Budget Cuts Would ‘Devastate’ Public Broadcasting, CPB President Says

The president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, one of the entities on the chopping block in President Trump’s proposed budget, said that the elimination of funding “begins the collapse of the public media system itself and the end of this essential national service.”

Patricia Harrison said that the plan to eliminate federal support “would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions – all for Americans in both rural and urban communities.”

She added, “Viewers and listeners appreciate that public media is non-commercial and available for free to all Americans. We will work with the new Administration and Congress in raising awareness that elimination of federal funding to CPB begins the collapse of the public media system itself and the end of this essential national service.”

Public broadcasting advocates are expected to wage an intense lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill, urging lawmakers not to adopt Trump’s budget proposal. The plan to eliminate funding to CPB, with an appropriation that has run about $445 million in recent years, had been expected, as reports surfaced even before Trump took office that it was among the cuts under consideration.

Paula Kerger, the president and CEO of PBS, said in a statement, “PBS and our nearly 350 member stations, along with our viewers, continue to remind Congress of our strong support among Republican and Democratic voters, in rural and urban areas across every region of the country. We have always had support from both parties in Congress, and will again make clear what the public receives in return for federal funding for public broadcasting.”

She noted that the “cost of public broadcasting is small, only $1.35 per citizen per year, and the benefits are tangible: increasing school readiness for kids 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, lifelong learning, public safety communications and civil discourse.”

CPB provides some support to PBS and NPR, but the bulk of its funding goes to public broadcasting stations.

Trump’s budget plan also called for eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Each receives an appropriation of about $149 million per year.

Jane Chu, the current chairwoman of the NEA, said in a statement, “We are disappointed because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages in thousands of communities, large, small, urban and rural, and in every Congressional District in the nation.”

She said that Trump’s budget request was the “first step in a very long budget process” and that the NEA will continue to “operate as usual and will do so until a new budget is enacted by Congress.”

Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, said that he was “deeply troubled” by Trump’s budget.

The organization advocates for federal arts funding, and Lynch has been part of numerous budget battles of the past. Previous calls to eliminate the NEA have come from presidential advisers or Capitol Hill lawmakers, but the agency has managed to survive in the final appropriation.

“President Trump is the first and only American president who has made such a recommendation,” Lynch said. “Our nation’s parents, teachers, community leaders, arts advocates, government officials, and even economists will not accept this proposal.”

He added, “This arts and culture industry supports 4.8 million jobs and yields a $26 billion trade surplus for our country. President Trump does not yet realize the vast contribution the NEA makes to our nation’s economy and communities, as well as to his own agenda to create jobs ‘made and hired’ in America.”

He noted that work on the budget process will continue through October.

Lynch’s organization is planning two days of lobbying and advocacy in Washington next week.

Read the full statement from the NEA below:

Today we learned that the President’s FY 2018 budget blueprint proposes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts. We are disappointed because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages in thousands of communities, large, small, urban and rural, and in every Congressional District in the nation.

We understand that the President’s budget request is a first step in a very long budget process; as part of that process we are working with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to prepare information they have requested. At this time, the NEA continues to operate as usual and will do so until a new budget is enacted by Congress.

We expect this news to be an active topic of discussion among individuals and organizations that advocate for the arts. As a federal government agency, the NEA cannot engage in advocacy, either directly or indirectly. We will, however, continue our practice of educating about the NEA’s vital role in serving our nation’s communities.

Read the full statement from the CPB below:

“There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services. The elimination of federal funding to CPB would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions – all for Americans in both rural and urban communities.

Public media is one of America’s best investments. At approximately $1.35 per citizen per year, it pays huge dividends to every American. From expanding opportunity, beginning with proven children’s educational content to providing essential news and information as well as ensuring public safety and homeland security through emergency alerts, this vital investment strengthens our communities. It is especially critical for those living in small towns and in rural and underserved areas.

Viewers and listeners appreciate that public media is non-commercial and available for free to all Americans. We will work with the new Administration and Congress in raising awareness that elimination of federal funding to CPB begins the collapse of the public media system itself and the end of this essential national service.”

Read the full statement from PBS below:

“PBS and our nearly 350 member stations, along with our viewers, continue to remind Congress of our strong support among Republican and Democratic voters, in rural and urban areas across every region of the country. We have always had support from both parties in Congress, and will again make clear what the public receives in return for federal funding for public broadcasting. The cost of public broadcasting is small, only $1.35 per citizen per year, and the benefits are tangible: increasing school readiness for kids 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, lifelong learning, public safety communications and civil discourse.”

Two new national surveys — one by Rasmussen Reports and another conducted jointly by leading Republican and Democratic researchers for PBS — reveal that voters across the political spectrum overwhelmingly oppose eliminating federal funding for public television. Rasmussen shows that just 21% of Americans – and only 32% of Republicans – favor ending public broadcasting support. In the PBS Hart Research-American Viewpoint poll, 83% of voters – including 70% of those who voted for President Trump – say they want Congress to find savings elsewhere.

The Directors Guild, Screen Actors Guild, and Writers Guilds of America issued a joint statement in support. Read the full statement below:

The DGA, SAG-AFTRA and WGA West and East—as the Guilds representing creators and performers in American film, television, radio, sound recordings and digital media—urge our nation’s leaders to preserve funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. As a source of inspiration, action and economic growth our country’s creative arts are integral to our culture, our American identity and our democracy. Access to the arts has fueled generations of great Americans, uplifted communities and helped heal our nation’s greatest divides. Cutting federal support of these programs will not only hurt artists and those who benefit from their work, it will also send a damaging message to future generations about the power of art and its place in our culture.

Update: IATSE has added its name to the guilds’ statement.

 

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