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Opinion Letters House may vote on public media cuts Thursday

Some Republican members of Congress are pushing for a vote in the House on Thursday to slash all funding for NPR, PBS and other public media. This is the closest they have ever come to pulling the plug on the news and cultural programming that many Americans say they support.

A few members of Congress have spoken out against this assault on media. With your help, we can get more members to take a stand.

It’s a disgrace to see what is being done to silence what the public says, in poll after poll, are their most valued sources of news and programming. This needs to stop. Here’s why:

— The proposed bills would zero out the $430 million federal appropriation for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

— a cost that averages a mere $1.39 per person.

— More than 70 percent of that funding goes to local stations around the country, providing the lifeblood for broadcasters in rural or economically hard-hit areas where there are fewer sources of news and programming.

— Public media has become a vital resource for Americans at a time when commercial journalism is in decline: U.S. print newsrooms have shrunk by 25 percent in the past three years alone. Local television stations have lost more than 1,500 jobs since 2008. In some parts of the country, public media are the only source of local news and public affairs programs.

It’s time we came together to stop plans to kill public media. Here’s how:

First, sign the letter to your member of Congress located on the website: www.freepress.net/

Once we get enough signatures from this area, the letter will be delivered to your representative. After that, a call-in campaign will begin urging representatives to stand against political efforts to undermine popular programs like PBS NewsHour, Frontline, Point of View and On the Media.

Public pressure works. Last week, Rep. Steve Rothman (DN. J.) said, “It is critical that Congress continues to support funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ... Defunding CPB will significantly hurt National Public Radio news stations in less affluent areas because those communities rely on the vital federal funds set aside for public broadcasting.”

We need to encourage more elected officials to join Rep. Rothman. By signing the letter, you’re putting Congress on notice: Don’t play politics with public media.

Josh Stearns, Assoc. program director, www.FreePress.net


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