One of the primary matters that the new Congress will take up early this year is formulating a budget. The new administration is searching for reductions in funding for every department of the government. Early proposals being floated show that after many years of raising the issue, Republicans may drastically alter government funding of pubic media in this country as well as the Endowment for the Arts. Initial reports indicate the incoming administration is considering selling off the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH).
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CRP), created by President Lyndon Johnson, in 1967 when he signed the Public Broadcasting Act. The Act provided government funding for the agency to initiate non-commercial media outlets around the country. The CPB eventually created Television’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the National Public Radio (NPR) network. In 2014, the Corporation was budgeted 445 million, approximately .O1% of the overall federal budget. Funding is distributed to both help produce national shows and to help fund local outlets. The NEH and the NEA which both offer grants for artistic and educational programs, also receive several hundred million in Federal funding. PBS and NPR also receive state, local and corporate underwriting. They also due direct sales to the public and periodic fund raising from their audience. While the fiscal implications seemed minimal, the political posturing is already starting.
NPR has regularly been a target for conservative ire for years for what is perceived as a liberal bias in the reporting of the news. Many even question the appropriateness of a government funded news organization in the European tradition. Beyond it significance as news outlet, the CPB also plays a central role in local communities across the nations with ties to local stations nationwide. Many have questioned the continuing need for public funding of news media. The Heritage Foundation comments in recent funding proposals that the landscape of broadcasting was much different in 1967 when “households faced very limited broadcasting options. As technology has grown since the corporation’s inception, media sources for accessing the news and broadcasting have greatly increased.” Now the vast majority of American households have an unlimited choice of media choices via cable or internet access.
The Hill reports that proposals for cutting funding to the arts were being put forward in papers by the Heritage Foundation and the Republican Study Committee in their “Blueprint for a Balanced Budget.” Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina is Trump’s choice to head the Office of Management and Budget, and will have primary responsibility for marshaling the Administration’s budget through Congress. Mulvaney has not cleared Congressional inquiry and has not yet weighed in on the proposed spending line items.
The administration’s full budget proposal is expected to the Congress within Trump’s first 100 days in office, sometime near the end of April. As the budget process plays out over the next few months, the public will have the opportunity to witness one of the country’s major news sources in NPR and PBS, nightly reporting on its own future as it plays out on the floor of Congress,