Big Bird Facing The Axe Again
The Bush administration has once again called for huge cuts in funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Under budget proposals sent to Congress on Monday, $53.5 million would be cut from the $400 million due to be doled out to public TV and radio stations in 2007 and another $50 million in 2008. In a statement, CPB chief Patricia Harrison said she was disappointed in the administration's proposal. Harrison, a past co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said that she nevertheless understood that "the hard choices facing the administration, Congress and the nation as hurricane reconstruction, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue and entitlement spending take up a growing share of federal dollars." A far stronger statement came from Jeff Chester, executive director of the public-interest group Center for Digital Democracy. "The Bush White House is taking an axe to help chop off Big Bird's head and turn Elmo out into the streets," he said, adding that he thought the primary goal was to curtail the ability of public broadcasters "to critically report the news." Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey complained, "In a world of fast-and-furious television with content often inappropriate for young children, the public broadcasting system represents the last stronghold of quality, child-oriented programming -- we owe this free over-the-air resource to America's children and their parents."