Pubcasting support letter in Senate has GOP signatures for first time in six years

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DENVER, Colo. — For the first time since 2006, a “Dear Colleague” letter to U.S. Senators requesting continued federal funding for pubcasting has Republican signatures, Pat Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, told attendees at the PBS Annual Meeting.

The letter, addressed to the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), has 39 signatures including three Republicans. On the House side, a similar letter to the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee led by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has 116 signatures that include six Republicans.

“We’re taking that as a sign of progress in rebuilding a bipartisan consensus for public broadcasting,” Butler said. “It’s trench warfare. Every hill is hard fought, and hard won.”

Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts joined his Republican colleagues from Maine, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, in signing the Senate letter. House Republicans expressing support for CPB funding were: Reps. Dave Reichert of Washington State, Howard Coble of North Carolina, Leonard Lance of New Jersey,  Don Young of Alaska, and Chris Gibson and Richard Hanna of New York. 

Butler also said he hopes to meet, possibly as soon as next week, with Republican presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who said on the campaign trail that public television needs to accept advertising to support itself. “Massachusetts was never a funder of public television,” Butler said, so Romney “operates from lack of experience with the public broadcasting system. He’s a smart, decent guy, I think he’ll listen to reason. It’s important to get the facts in front of him.”