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Panel Eases the Bite Out of Public TV, Radio

Vote reduces the cut in public broadcasting to $95 million. Programs would still be affected.

June 14, 2006|From a Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday to restore $20 million of proposed cuts in federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides money to local public television and radio stations.

The Bush administration originally proposed to cut about 37% of the federal funding for public broadcasting, and a subcommittee last week proposed a cut of $115 million, or 23%.

A net cut of $95 million, if passed by the House and the Senate, would go into effect Oct. 1. It would result in the elimination of some educational programming, including "Ready to Learn," a literacy program, and "Ready to Teach," an online resource for teachers, according to a National Public Radio spokesman.

Mike Riksen, NPR's vice president for government relations, said the cuts could also affect the distribution of programming to audiences and could hinder smaller TV and radio stations, particularly their ability to switch to digital programming.

"I think ultimately the impact of the committee's failure to restore all parts of the public broadcasting funding will be felt by rural communities," he said.

Republicans say the funding cut is necessary to maintain necessary levels of funding for health and education.

"We had to make some difficult choices that are the reflection of a tight budget," said John Scofield, a GOP spokesman for the Appropriations Committee. Scofield said funding for Pell grants and other programs took priority over broadcasting.

Bigger cuts were proposed last spring, but did not make it past the House. Eighty-seven Republicans joined Democrats to restore $100 million of a $223-million proposed cut to public broadcasting.

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