There was plenty of pushback Wednesday to the Republican proposal to zero out federal funding for noncommercial radio and TV, which was part of a continuing resolution being debated in the House Wednesday.
In addition to the one million-plus signatures Free Press and others said they had collected in support of the funding , the Association of Public Televison Stations and American Public Media launched the 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting Campaign, while Rep. Ed Markey and others braved the blustery winds for a speech and photo op with PBS's Arthur in their call for continued funding.
The 170 Million campaign (noncom radio and TV station's montly audience, according to the group) is a co-production of over 250 TV and radio stations and comes a day after APTS said it was teaming with NPR on a new initiative, the Public Media Association to lobby for funding.
The noncom stations are asking Web surfers to sign up for action alerts and write their congressman telling them to preserve the funding. "It is going to take hundreds of thousands of Americans calling and writing Congress to get this critical funding back into the budget proposal," the groups says.
Meanwhile, one of the congressmen who needs no convincing, Ed Markey (D-Mass.) spoke at a Capitol Hill event in support of CPB. Markey, author of the Children's Television Act and flanked by Arthur the Aardvark, called noncommercial TV an "electronic oasis for learning in what has been called the vast wasteland of commercial television."
He said he would introduce an amendment to the budget bill to restore all of CPB's funding. "We can't leave Arthur and all of his pals in the lurch," he said.
Markey illustrated the need for noncommercial TV by pointing out what he said was a "on commercial, over-the-air broadcasting station each week," then referred to soap operas, hoarding (there are a couple of hoarding shows on cable) and Dog, the Bounty Hunter (A&E), among others. A Markey spokesperson clafified that the congressman was talking not just about TV stations but daytime programing on cable as well.
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