The House of Representatives today (Nov. 18) voted down a move to defund NPR, in the first Republican-ordered floor vote since the GOP-dominated Midterms on Nov. 2. The vote was 239-171. It was actually a procedural maneuver related to a debate rule on H.R. 1722, the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. The House vote was to close debate and thus avoid voting on the NPR proposal, which had been put forward by Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.)
Following the vote, the Association of Public Television Stations issued a statement. “APTS stands in solidarity with public radio stations across the country who provide an invaluable service to their local communities,” said APTS Interim President and CEO Lonna Thompson. “Without federal funding, public broadcasting stations, particularly those in rural areas, would be unable to continue to provide our local communities with the unparalleled news and information, and educational programming that we provide today.”
NPR responded to the vote with this statement: “Today, good judgment prevailed as Congress rejected a move to assert government control over the content of news.”
“The proposal to prohibit public radio stations from using CPB grants to purchase NPR programming is an unwarranted attempt to interject federal authority into local station program decision-making,” the NPR statement continued. “Furthermore, restrictions on the authority of CPB – a congressionally chartered, independent non-profit organization – to make competitive grants to NPR, or any other public broadcasting entity, is misguided.”
And Tim Isgitt, s.v.p. of communications and government affairs at CPB, said: “With a new majority in the House and many new members in both the House and Senate, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to educate Congress on the value and importance of public media to an educated and informed civil society. We will work closely with the other national organizations, and we will make sure every member is informed about the public media services that could be endangered without their support.”
From a policy, regulation, funding and service standpoint, there is none but the local station. They have the local board, the local listeners, are locally licensed, locally funded for the most part and provide services based on local choices. CPBs grants are “community service grants-CSG). Those who produce for PBS distribution are local stations for the most part. Public radio chooses programs from a number of sources and for many stations, most of their schedule is local programming, even if it is classical music. This is about the local economy, local jobs, the purchase of local supplies and services, local community organization participation, etc.
If the stations communicate that in unison to their audiences, funders and their elected representatives, they have a winning strategy.