PBS Chief Decries Moves To Cut Funding

Paula Kerger said Saturday that a loss of federal dollars "would eliminate public broadcasting in areas I know it's tremendously used."

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) – PBS President Paula Kerger said Saturday she’s disappointed public TV’s federal funding again is under attack by lawmakers.

The move is ironic, she said, given the impressive number of Emmy Award nominations earned last week by PBS programs, including the popular drama “Downton Abbey.” PBS received 58 nods, second only to HBO and CBS.

Public television gets 15 percent of its money from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the rest largely contributed by viewers, Kerger told a meeting of the Television Critics Association.

But some stations would lose more than half their money if funds are cut, and a number of them will be forced to “go dark,” she said.

A loss of federal dollars “would eliminate public broadcasting in areas I know it’s tremendously used,” Kerger said. She cited a small Cookeville, Tenn., station that has done “an extraordinary job at being an archive for the culture in that community.”

U.S. House Republicans have unveiled legislation aimed at cutting off federal funding for public TV television and National Public Radio. Both have been targets before, with Republicans saying PBS could get along just fine without taxpayer help.


Kerger said it’s “disappointing to me when you look at the value the American public places” on PBS.

While she and other PBS executives try to be eloquent defenders of public TV, she said, it is ultimately the audience that can help protect it by making their support for PBS known to Congress.

Rep. Norm Dicks of Washington, a top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said last week the “extremely partisan proposal” stands little chance of being brought up on the House floor and will be disregarded by the Senate and President Barack Obama.

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Gregg Palermo says:

July 23, 2012 at 9:11 am

If the 99 percent movement had any merit, it’s that the 1 percent have enough money to fund their own niche desires. PBS attracts 1 percent of viewing so why should the taxpayers fund it? Yes, it made perfect sense in 1967 when there were 3 networks, but PBS as been an anachronism since the 1980s. Pull the Federal nipple and let it be 100 percent self-funded.

    Warren Harmon says:

    July 23, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I could not agree more, spot on, most of the programming only serves the left anyway.

Maria Black says:

July 23, 2012 at 10:14 am

A problem with that, however, is PBS serves everyone, and not everyone has lots of money to donate. Cutting Federal funding would mean that poorer areas, who don’t have the population base that metro areas do, are getting hurt. PBS does a lot of children’s programming that is very beneficial, and helps with early childhood education, which makes less burdensome students. I seriously doubt PBS is an anachronism when so many people watch it, and many people are cutting pay TV service. I say the big four are anachronisms, because you can barely tell their shows, used in the loosest sense of the term, apart. With minor exceptions, most of their programming is reality drivel or mindless popularity contests. Maybe if we kept funding PBS, but took away subsidies to oil companies or stopped paying for benefits for elected officials, we’d see a turn around in the country that was meaningful. If I could choose what my taxes pay for, it would be roads, schools, PBS and other services that benefit people. I’m fairly certain the Federal Nipple, as you say it, could use bigger mouths to be weaned off of it.

Ellen Samrock says:

July 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Ah, yes. The old “the government’s killing Big Bird” argument. While there have been numerous studies showing the positive impact that educational shows have on young minds, there is no independent study which indicates Sesame Street or any of the other PBS shows is better for children then what’s on Ion’s Qubo or a similar commercial network. The other PBS shows are of high enough quality that I think they could survive without public funding. “Downton Abbey” is so hot that I’m sure PBS can squeeze as much funding from well-heeled supporters as needed to support other shows. On the other hand, the cost to the government for funding public broadcasting is roughly equal to the price of a couple of smart bombs so maybe we’re seeing yet another case of political grand standing or looking for spare change under the couch cushions instead of tackling the real problems behind government spending.

kae WILLIAMS says:

July 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I wonder what the government spends, in advertising dollars, on major networks? Do you see those types or numbers of ads on PBS or public stations?

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