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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 04/21/2010

Public broadcasting on the chopping block in Va.

By editors


Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell could move ahead this week on aims of the Republican-dominated House of Delegates to slash state funding for public television and radio by about $2.2 million over two years, or 26 percent.

Doing so could mark the start of a move sought by some conservative legislators to end state support of public broadcasting entirely.

McDonnell’s plan would cut the $2.2 million from a proposed $8.2 million in state support for public stations from Roanoke to Hampton Roads to Northern Virginia, State Budget Director Dan Timberlake told me. Action could come as early as today, as members of the General Assembly gather to consider McDonnell’s tweaks to the state’s $82 billion budget for 2010-12.

To be sure, a number of revenue-starved states, including Idaho and Pennsylvania, have cut funding to their public television and radio stations by at least $23 million this fiscal year, according to the Association of Public Television Stations. But one has to question why McDonnell is going along with the Republican-dominated House’s targeting of public broadcasting, which many conservatives decry as shamelessly tilted toward liberal politics. The Democratic-controlled Senate has balked at the cuts, but it's unclear whether it will hold the line.

McDonnell, tainted by his 1980s Regent University graduate thesis, which revealed outdated, if not bigoted, views of women and gays, has been busy shooting himself in the foot during his three months in office. He somehow forgot to mention slavery in reviving Confederate History Month, and he had to backpedal quickly from Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli’s declaration that state universities had no legal basis to protect gay and lesbian workers.

If the cuts go through — and permanent ones follow — the quality of public programming in the state will be badly affected. In one example, the Community Ideas Stations serve Richmond, Southside, Charlottesville and the Northern Neck with such meaty news and analysis National Public Radio programs as “All Things Considered” and “Fresh Air.” It would lose 17 percent of its budget. It gets only about 10 percent of its revenue from the national Corporation for Public Broadcasting, an Ideas Stations spokeswoman says.

Maybe that’s what many in the House want. We’ll be stuck with the likes of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, his dittoheads, their rants and their dearth of intelligent analysis and context. Virginians deserve better.

Peter Galuszka blogs at Bacon's Rebellion. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By editors  | April 21, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Va. Politics, Virginia, economy, media  | Tags:  Robert McDonnell, Virginia budget cuts, Virginia politics, public broadcasting  
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This would be a very bad idea, and a very dark day for Virginia. Public broadcasting is without doubt the best and highest quality programming available on television today or at any other time, presenting a thoughtful, intelligent view of the world's news, art and culture, education, etc. That the paleolithic McDonnell wants to deprive those Virginians who value such things of public broadcasting says a whole lot about his own values, culture, and priorities. I would go so far as to say that the modern GOP views intellectuals and academics as the enemy, and is making policy decisions accordingly. Stupid, petty, mean-spirited and inexcusable.

Posted by: bokonon13 | April 21, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

No surprise. As long as the 19th century thought process of the southern VA. delegates have their way Virginia will never be a 21st century state.

Posted by: jckdoors | April 21, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Public broadcasting is an easy target that doesn't amount to much. Governor McDonnell is in a tough spot. The state has no money and all he can do is nibble at the edges of the budget; like trimming public broadcasting. The state could use some traffic relief but they aren't going to start anything new until they get some money.

I don't see him doing anything major like stopping transportation projects that have already begun, cutting the schools or (gulp) raising taxes.

Posted by: KS100H | April 21, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I agree with "bokonon" that, "Public broadcasting is without doubt the best and highest quality programming available on television today or at any other time, presenting a thoughtful, intelligent view of the world's news, art and culture, education, etc"

I also agree with KS100H, that "Public broadcasting is an easy target that doesn't amount to much".

That said, it's long past time for taxpayers to get out of "public" television. Thankfully the end is near in Va. As well it should be.

Posted by: mewcomm | April 21, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

I have never heard a good reason for me to pay for other peoples tv or radio program. It is like all art, if good it will support itself if not it should fail.

Posted by: mjsiniard | April 22, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

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