Trump budget axe will deal a devastating blow to public broadcasting in the US

Massive budget cuts proposed by President Donald Trump will eliminate America’s Corporation for Public broadcasting – the major funder of PBS programming – as well as the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.

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Trump has proposed ending all federal funding for public broadcasting. Media experts believe the Trump move is the gravest threat to the existence of PBS and NPR in a long history of political antagonism toward the organizations.

PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger said in a statement ,“PBS and our nearly 350 member stations, along with our viewers, continue to remind Congress of our strong support among Republican and Democratic voters, in rural and urban areas across every region of the country. Much of the programming is sourced from the BBC.

“The cost of public broadcasting is small,” Kerger continued, “only $1.35 per citizen per year, and the benefits are tangible: increasing school readiness for kids 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, lifelong learning, public safety communications and civil discourse.”

Patricia Harrison, CEO for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, said Trump’s devastating budget cuts would lead to the “collapse of the public media system itself and the end of this essential national service.”

The CPB receives approximately $450 million annually from the federal government, then distributes grants to local TV and radio stations and producers.

Killing the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities has been a treasured goal of Congressional Republicans since the Reagan era “culture wars” of the 1980s, Deadline reported.

“ Those efforts until now have proved fruitless in the wake of widespread public support of arts funding, and the example set by most other civilised nations, where funding of the arts and humanities is seen as both an economic stimulator and the sign of an enlightened culture.

Rocco Landesman, a Broadway theater owner and producer who chaired the arts endowment during the first administration of President Barack Obama, was sanguine about the proposed cuts.

“The budget process is always long and arduous,” Landesman told Deadline in an email Thursday morning. “In recent years the NEA and NEH have had strong bi-partisan support in Congress, so we’re a long way from a final result. The proposed budget is Round 1. “

In a strongly worded report on the cultural and economic impact of the proposed budget cuts, New York City comptroller Scott M. Stringer wrote:

“Eliminating the N.E.A. would have a significant impact on the City, disrupting funding for hundreds of cultural organizations and jeopardizing programs for the millions of New Yorkers they serve.

“Organizations supported by the N.E.A. have an outsized impact on the city, delivering arts programming and education in scores of neighborhoods, spurring creativity and critical thinking, and providing thousands of jobs to local residents.”

Stringer’s report, “Culture Shock: The Importance of National Arts Funding to New York City’s Cultural Landscape” (read it here) emphasizes the impact of federal arts funding not just in the “elitist preserve” of Manhattan, but in underserved areas of the other four boroughs, as well as across the nation.

“[T]he cultural ecosystem the N.E.A. supports is essential to the vitality of New York City and the nation at-large,” Stringer wrote. “From the school house to the retirement home, the arts provide a medium for self-understanding and self-expression. They are a means for engaging different cultures and heritages as well as cultivating and sustaining a collective identity.”

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