Last updated: February 28, 2011 - 2:43pm
With the new Congress, Republicans again have made public broadcasting a target for cuts, and the petitions and on-air appeals are back. This time, however, even a recent Capitol appearance by Arthur, the booking-loving aardvark, may not be enough to fully stave off a reduction in financing. Mike Riksen, NPR’s vice president of policy and representation, told member stations in January that a confluence of events — the growing deficit, questions about the role of the government in media, budget concerns on both sides of the political isle and in both houses, objections to a perceived left-wing bias — had created “the most determined, organized and sophisticated challenge to federal funding for public radio — ever.” Underscoring that assessment, on Feb. 19, the House approved a bill for 2011 that cut all financing for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the year 2013, the first time in recent memory that such a zeroing-out measure passed a vote. Representative Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas, said recently on “The Diane Rehm Show” on NPR that public broadcasting’s audience, “I think, are discerning viewers who understand frankly, we've got ourselves in a mess as a nation fiscally and that we’re going to have to make some tough decisions.” Even moderate Republicans who once were reliable backers of federal financing for public broadcasting have offered little support.