Public broadcasting on the chopping block in Va.
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McDonnell, tainted by his 1980s Regent University graduate thesis, which revealed outdated, if not bigoted, views of women and gays, has been busy shooting himself in the foot during his three months in office.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.
| 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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