Republicans on Capitol Hill want to end subsidies for public broadcasting, including National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting Service. If that happens, local public radio station KSJD could face some restructuring, resulting in the loss of some employees, changes in programming and delays in the Cornerstone Project.
Legislation was introduced March 4 by conservative Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the entity that funds outlets such as NPR and PBS. Nationally, that would save taxpayers $420 million a year.
The bill cuts all funding for public broadcasting. KSJD serves 26,000 listeners in the area. It started as a small, student-run station for the San Juan Vocational School and became what it is today in 2003 when Jeff Pope took over.
Pope is the executive director of KSJD Dryland Community Radio and said KSJD is funded through local memberships; business sponsorships or underwriting; and CPB funding; which covers a third of KSJDs overall budget. The station receives approximately $100,000 annually from CPB.
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, steps into the picture as one of the Republicans focused on cutting the $1.7 trillion deficit and making significant changes in the way Washington spends money, according to Tiptons press secretary, Josh Green.
NPR and public broadcasting have great programs as far as their content and stuff like that, and making a cut to them is not a value of judgment on their programming as it is a decision as to whether or not government has any business funding entertainment, Green said.
The private market can take care of a demand for programming, Green said.
Its not governments place, unfortunately, during these tough economic times to be picking up the tab for that, so we are in favor of the cuts (to public broadcasting), he said.
Pope disagrees with those who label public broadcasting as entertainment.
(KSJD) operates as an educational licensee, not an entertainment licensee (within federal broadcasting restrictions). Were not just entertainment, Pope said, citing the stations recent work in developing and executing curriculum through which Southwest Open High School students learned journalistic skills, radio and media production and writing.
We operate in the noncommercial education band. Thats a federal government designation from 88.1 to 91.9 (FM), Pope said.
If Tipton and the delegation want to cut public broadcast funding, Pope questions if they would also be willing to cut federal regulations restricting public broadcastings programming, and if so why they havent suggested it yet. Commercial radio stations can have 22 minutes of advertising per hour. Public radio stations, unlike commercial radio stations, are not allowed to air advertisements. Instead, the station can use about five minutes per hour acknowledging those who donate to the station as underwriters, with name, location and phone number only. Price information, calls to action, inducements to buy, sell, rent or lease, comparative information, or qualitative information about sponsors or items are strictly forbidden by the Federal Communications Commission.
I would push back and say how would you respond to that and (does Congress) want to change the regulation to say were no longer an educational venue? Pope said.
Fine let us do 25 minutes of commercials an hour, then maybe we can survive, though (KSJD) wont sound like it does now, he said.
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