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WGAE Urges Obama Transition Team To Boost Public Broadcasting Funding

The Writers Guild of America East says it has had meetings with President-elect Barack Obama's transition team in which it urged it and members of Congress to boost funding for public broadcasting.

While WGAE acknowledges that the incoming Democratic administration is already likely to be more receptive to its call than the previous one (Republicans were always threatening cuts), in the current economy, it is leaving nothing to chance.

In the meetings, WGAE President Michael Winship and other top executives pointed out that the private donations and corporate funding that make up the lion's share of noncommercial funding--about 85%--is threatened by the tanking economy, and also argued that layoffs and freezes have "negatively impacted the quality of news and public discourse in the country."

They pointed out that one in four noncommercial stations is having problems with liquidity and debt.

“At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, adequate funding for public broadcasting is more important than ever,” Winship said in publicizing the meetings. “This will help stimulate the economy as well as deepen public discourse about such central issues of our time as climate change, globalization, diversity, and human rights.”

A spokesperson for WGAE, which represents hundreds of public broadcasting writers and producers, said more meetings are planned on the subject.