You know that email petition that keeps circulating about how Congress is slashing funding for NPR and PBS? Well, now it's actually true. A House panel has voted to eliminate all public funding for NPR and PBS, starting with "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow," and other commercial-free children's shows. If approved, this would be the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting, threatening to pull the plug on Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch.
1. "Public Broadcasting Targeted By House," Washington Post, June 10, 2005
2. "CPB's 'Secrets and Lies': Why the CPB Board Hid its Polls Revealing Broad Public Support for PBS and NPR," Center for Digital Democracy, April 27, 2005
3. "Republican Chairman Exerts Pressure on PBS, Alleging Biases," New York Times, May 2, 2005
The rest of MoveOn.Org's letter:
The cuts would slash 25% of the federal funding this year—$100 million—and end funding altogether within two years.1 In particular, the loss could kill beloved children's shows like "Sesame Street," "Clifford the Big Red Dog," "Arthur" and "Postcards from Buster." Rural stations and those serving low-income communities might not survive. Other stations would have to increase corporate sponsorships.
This shameful vote is only the latest partisan assault on public TV and radio. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which exists to shield public TV and radio from political pressure, is now chaired by Kenneth Tomlinson, a staunch Republican close to the White House. Tomlinson has already forced one-sided conservative programs on the air, even though Tomlinson's own surveys show that most people consider NPR "fair and balanced" and they actually trust public broadcasting more than commercial network news.2
Tomlinson also spent taxpayer dollars on a witch hunt to root out "liberal bias," including a secret investigation of Bill Moyers and PBS' popular investigative show, "NOW." Even though the public paid for the investigation, Tomlinson has refused to release the findings.3
The lawmakers who proposed the cuts aren't just trying to save money in the budget—they're trying to decimate any news outlets who question those in power. This is an ideological attack on our free press.
Talk about bad timing. Every day brings another story about media consolidation. Radio, TV stations and newspapers are increasingly controlled by a few massive corporate conglomerates trying to maximize profits at the expense of quality journalism. Now more than ever, we need publicly funded media who will ask hard questions and focus on stories that affect real people, instead of Michael Jackson and the runaway bride.
As the House and Senate consider this frightening effort to kill public broadcasting, they need to hear from its owners—you.
Sign the petition telling Congress to save NPR and PBS:
If we can reach 250,000 signatures by the end of the week, we'll put Congress on notice. After you sign the petition, please pass this message along to any friends, neighbors or co-workers who count on NPR and PBS.