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Markey Likely To Fight Public Broadcasting Cuts

Looks like Congressman Ed Markey may have to suit up for battle again--perhaps a Big Bird suit--against the forces that want to cut public broadcasting.

The Administration's 2008 budget, released Monday, cuts $110 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's budget, or about a quarter of the noncom's $460 million from 2006.

Of the cuts, Markey said: “In a 24-7 television world with content often inappropriate for young children, the public broadcasting system represents an oasis of quality, child-oriented educational programming.  We owe America’s children and their parents this free, over-the-air resource.”

Last time around, Markey teamed with activist groups to protest deep non-commercial TV cuts, prompted in part by Republicans displeasure over the spending of Department of Education funds for the Ready To Learn program on Postcards From Buster. That show came under heavy fire from DOE and Republican legislators over an episode featuring lesbian parents.

Of the latest swing of the axe from the administration, PBS VP, communications, Lea Sloan said: "Such a cut would mean dire consequences for public television stations which provide their local communities with educational content and services. For PBS, it could mean the end of our ability to support some of the most treasured educational children’s series and primetime icons to which CPB funding contributes.

"We are hopeful that Congress will recognize the unique value public stations offer to their communities in everything from advancing literacy, math and science skills among children to providing rich, diverse cultural arts as well as news and public affairs programming to people of all ages." 

Traditionally, Republicans have cut CPB's budget--or even threatened to zero it out--as they tried to do with Ready to Learn. As is the norm in these situation, the Democrats push back  on the cuts, and most of the money gets restored.

John Lawson, who heads the Association of Public Television Stations, wsa disappointed in the proposed cut and will continue to urge Congress "to keep support valuable broadast programming, but essentially called it "more of the same."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.