The Republican-led House of Representatives passed spending cuts that would eliminate all federal funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in an attempt to help balance the deficit-laden federal budget. This group—also known as the CPB—funds a significant portion of PBS and NPR stations around the country. While these cuts face an uphill battle in the Senate and at the Oval Office, passing these over-the-top and intense reforms Feb. 20 is too much for such important parts of American media and life.
Programs on PBS and NPR have been part of the American culture for decades. The educational effects of shows like “Sesame Street,” “Reading Rainbow,” “All Things Considered,” or “NewsHour” are immeasurable to many. Viewers young and old get perspectives and insights from shows few other broadcasters would even consider showing. Even local affiliates’ programs (which would probably be most damaged by the federal cuts) are memorable and provide a means for a community’s history and culture to be recorded for the future. Many of these types of programming simply would not exist with the quality they have if not for public broadcasting and partial federal funding.
Now don’t get me wrong. The positive effect public broadcasting has had does not exempt it from financial change. The federal budget needs major reform, and cuts have to be made. Like any other federally funded department, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting should take its share of cuts. But why should this major benefactor of PBS or NPR be subject to complete elimination? Does Congress think the top-of-the-line children’s programming is not up to par? Or are the types of primetime shows (or more importantly, local programming) that wouldn’t find a platform anywhere else not educational or insightful enough for viewers? Are NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts or ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ too risqué or controversial to be put on the airwaves? Not a chance. If anything, the GOP just isn’t pleased with the presumed left-leaning policies of NPR or PBS. In a recent blog post, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina claims all public broadcasting is a lobbying firm for the liberal agenda. It’s not out of the question, he said, to “expect Big Bird to start filming commercials to hype ObamaCare.”
It’s not like this is an old issue either. Cuts to public broadcasting have been discussed every other time Republicans have controlled the House, recession or not. In my opinion, the majority of programs on these networks aren’t exactly political. Try finding some hidden commie message in “Antiques Roadshow” or “Masterpiece Classics.” If Congress really wants to change the message of public broadcasting, add a stipulation to the funding that would limit amounts of commentary and opinion. Don’t lower the quantity or quality of total content just to address this problem.
Again, these conversations wouldn’t have much merit if not for the budget reforms that have to take place in this country. It would be understandable if Congress wanted to trim parts of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s funding, just as it would for other beneficiaries of federal dollars. But we’ve been taught better than to accept this program’s elimination as a simple sacrifice that has to be made when other departments’ cuts are nowhere near as large. One of these things is not like the other, right?
Managing editor Brian Wilson is sophomore journalism major.