House gives support to restore CPB funding

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(Host) On Thursday evening, the U.S. House gave its strong support to restoring $100 million in funds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Congressman Bernie Sanders defended the CPB and called on Congress to protect the organization from becoming “a wing of the Republican Party.”

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The House subcommittee that oversees public broadcasting proposed a $200 million budget cut – $100 million in direct support to local public television and radio stations, like Vermont Public Radio, and another $100 million reduction in digital technology upgrade funds.

The House vote restores funding levels for the local stations but it leaves the other cuts in place. Congressman Bernie Sanders strongly supported the restoration of the funds.

(Sanders) “I think at a time when we’re seeing more and more media controlled by large media conglomerates and international corporations, it’s important to have at least one independent television network that presumably gives us objective news and information. And I think it’s irresponsible on the part of the Republican leadership to be asking for major cuts.”

(Kinzel) Sanders is also very concerned that the Bush Administration is exerting too much control over the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Sanders says the White House has politicized its appointments to the CPB and the congressman is alarmed that its new chairman, Ken Tomlinson, has said that he believes PBS has too many “liberal” programs. Sanders thinks Tomlinson should resign.

(Sanders) “So increasingly what you’re seeing is Republican Party operatives having important positions of power in PBS for the first time that anyone can remember or first time ever. They have demanded conservative programming on the PBS. They’ve been monitoring the Bill Moyers’ show and have been critical of him. So you’re seeing a political interference in the PBS that no one has ever seen before.”

(Kinzel) The legislation now will be considered in the U.S. Senate. Both of Vermont’s senators, Democrat Pat Leahy and Independent Jim Jeffords say they will strongly support efforts to fully restore the budget cuts to the CPB.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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