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Published: Sunday, July 22, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

PBS chief decries efforts to cut federal funding

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- 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.
Story tags » RadioTelevisionFederal

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