My favorite TV show in elementary school was Arthur. What’s not to love about a bespectacled aardvark who has a penchant for reading?
Who knew that beneath the surface of the happy public broadcasting stations, bubbled a partisan crisis threatening to boil over? Not six year old me. I was happy laughing along at Arthur and Francine’s new shenanigans.
Now, public broadcasting faces a major blow in the form of “zeroed out” government funding. Republicans in both the House and the Senate are pushing a new budget that would eliminate all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
Those for the budget cuts say that public broadcasting should be able to stand on its own two feet and that its necessary fat that should be cut to help overcome the deficit. Those against the cuts say that public radio provides a vital service, and the small amount won’t make a dent in the deficit anyway.
Realistically, popular television shows like Arthur and Sesame Street will probably never go away. In this case, Republicans are probably right in that these shows can “stand on their own two feet.” As can popular public radio programs like Morning Edition and All Things Considered, both of which have more than 13 million listeners and trail just behind the Hannity Show in the rankings.
But what about community based programming that doesn’t have the benefit of a national audience? Especially rural areas? When I spoke to Stacey Karp, the communications director for the Association of Public Television for my article this week, she said that these stations depend on federal funding for anywhere between 30 to 80 percent of their budget, a far cry from the 15 percent of the average station’s budget, and much harder to make up for.
She also points out that the budget cut would only eliminate one-ten thousandth of 1 percent of the deficit. Is eliminating public radio and television for these rural areas worth it? Perhaps. Doug Lamborn, a Republican House member from Colorado who proposed the cuts, said that it was necessary to start somewhere. Why not here? Everyone has to make sacrifices, right?
I guess thats up to the Senate now, since the House gave the cut the go ahead in late February.
As of this moment, I haven’t made up my mind on who is right. We need to cut costs, but we also need to allow radio stations and television stations who provide vital community reporting to stay on track. How much should it cost to, well, save money?