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What Would Defunding The CPB Mean For Public Media?

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President Donald Trump’s proposed budget is calling for cuts to agencies that fund the arts and humanities, among them is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which helps pay for NPR and other public media.

Intersection’s Matthew Peddie talks about what a defunded CPB would mean for public media with Rick Johnson, General Manager of WGCU public media in Fort Myers;  Adam Ragusea, Journalist in Residence and Visiting Assistant Professor of Journalism at the Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer University in Macon, GA. and host of the Pub podcast; and LaFontaine Oliver, President and General Manager of WMFE and member of NPR’s board of directors.

“For WGCU in particular, federal funding for our combined federal television and radio funding amounts to about 20% of our total operating budget,” said Johnson.

He said over time the lack of federal funding could lead to the collapse of the public media system in general.

“Someone drew the analogy of pulling a loose string on your sweater and it’s starting to unravel,” he said.

“That is the problem we’re facing if we lose the federal funding and smaller stations start going dark, or going quiet, that affects the system as a whole.”

“It’s one of those issues that people tend to rank pretty highly in terms of what they value in terms of services they get from the federal government,” said Ragusea.

“PBS is running around with a study they commissioned in recent months showing that 70% of Americans support federal funding for public broadcasting,” he said.

Oliver said amid the debate over funding, public media stations may have to look for new ways to connect with the communities they serve.

“It’s an opportunity to tell your story,” said Oliver.

“There’s that old saying, ‘If you don’t tell your story, someone else will tell it, and you may not recognize it when it’s told,'” he said.

“So I think there’s an opportunity to do that now, to try and find more ways to create the type of connection to communities and the type of value, so that should this question come up again in the future, perhaps folks aren’t so split on how they feel about the federal investment in public media.”




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