Republicans’ proposed budget would zero out CPB funding

Though its chances of advancing in Congress are considered slim, the proposed budget put forth this week by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan would zero out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Ryan said in the budget document released Tuesday that federal subsidies for CPB and the National Endowment for the Humanities could “no longer be justified.”

“The activities and content funded by these agencies go beyond the core mission of the federal government,” the document reads. “These agencies can raise funds from private-sector patrons, which will also free them from any risk of political interference.”

The proposed budget does not stipulate whether the zeroed-out funding would apply to the already appropriated two-year funding cycle, or whether it would be implemented after the forward-funded cycle. Patrick Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, said the proposal was expected. Ryan’s staffers told Butler a few weeks ago that the proposed budget would include zeroed-out funding.

Engelhardt

Pacifica orders austerity cuts after grim auditors’ report

Responding to a June 15 auditors’ report expressing “substantial doubt” that the Pacifica Foundation has the financial wherewithal “to continue as a going concern,” Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt recently notified the five Pacifica radio stations to prepare for deep cuts in their budgets and staffing. The audit, which examined the foundation’s finances for fiscal year 2011, was the second consecutive report questioning Pacifica’s financial viability. Although Engelhardt disputed the auditors’ warnings — “We can always take to the air and raise money,” she said — she directed the stations to make cuts of at least $1 million from their collective budgets. The reductions were to be made immediately, but at Current’s deadline, decisions being made at local stations could not be confirmed. While Pacifica has made substantial progress in reducing its operating deficit from $2.7 million in fiscal 2009 to $564,000 in 2011, “we still have not made inroads on the debt,” Engelhardt said in a telephone interview.

State aid down $85 million in four years

In four years that include the deepening recession, fiscal 2008 through 2012, public broadcasting stations in 24 states have lost a total of $85 million in financial support from state governments, according to a study released last week by Free Press, a progressive media-reform group. Those states reduced spending on public media by 42 percent of their 2008 amount. Free Press, which has joined the defense of federal and state aid to public media, gave the study a timely release date, one week before the congressional Super Committee’s Nov. 23 [2011] deadline to cut vast sums from the federal budget and deficit. “As federal lawmakers are considering making further cuts to public broadcasting nationally, we wanted to make sure they understood the full picture of public broadcasting in their states,” said Josh Stearns, co-author of the study and associate program director of Free Press.