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Noncom TV, Radio Team Up To Protect Funding

Public TV and radio stations are teaming up in Washington to battle for continued government funding.

The Association for Public Television Stations and embattled NPR have created the Public Media Association (PMA), which will essentially add APTS' firepower--APTS President Patrick Butler will also head PMA--to NPR's defense of its funding against attacks from Washington.

PMA is described as a "joint initiative to respond to the current federal funding crisis on behalf of public broadcasting."

That funding is under fire in Washington given the down economy and the rise of congressional Republicans critical of the service in general and NPR's firing of Juan Williams last fall in particular. Noncom funding it is a regular target of Republicans, but with tough budget cuts being made all over, the issue has become somewhat less partisan, though the president in his just-released budget preserves, and even increases, CPB's funding.

On the other side, Republican's version of the continuing resolution that would fund the government past March 4 includes zeroing out 2011 funding for CPB, which oversees the government funds that make up approximately 15% of noncom budgets.

Mike Riksen, NPR's VP for policy and representation, will also work on the PMA initiative, reporting to Butler.

The PMA will be governed by a "legislative council" comprised of four execs from the TV station side, and four from radio, named by Butler and NPR President Vivian Schiller. "The PMA will help public radio and television stations build support in their communities for these essential services," said Schiller in announcing the new group.

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.