June 23, 2005

House vote on CPB funds offers hope for public broadcasting 

A few minutes ago the U.S. House of Representatives voted 284 to 140 to approve an amendment which basically restores $100 million cut from next year's budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. More than 80 Republican members joined the Democrats in approving the bipartisan Obey-Lowey-Leach Amendment to the budget bill recommended by the House Appropriations Committee, which had drastically cut the CPB's budget. (See the report by Broadcasting & Cable on the House vote.) What does this mean? First, that a very large outpouring of citizen calls, letters, and emails once again turned the tide on something that seemed inevitable. But we're not out of the woods yet...not by a long shot. The House will soon vote on the Labor-HHS appropriations bill, of which the CPB budget is a small part. This may happen tomorrow. While the Obey amendment restored cuts to the main part of the CPB budget, other big cuts were made to the Ready to Learn program, the funding for digital conversation for public TV and radio stations, and the interconnection service for distributing shows to stations. These were all zeroed-out by the House bill which will likely pass tomorrow. The Senate has not yet taken up this part of the budget, and while the outpouring of citizen communication may have saved public broadcasting in the House, there may be another battle in the Senate. As these things go, we can reasonably expect a political backlash. In other words, if you care about the future of public broadcasting, it's not time to relax. However you feel, please keep those phone calls, letters, and emails coming.

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