KPCW awaits U.S. Senate vote (again)
March 22, 2011
Congress took a new tack toward cutting funds for public radio this week and that has local community radio station managers worried.
After H.R. 1, which would have hacked funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting died in the U.S. Senate last month, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives came up with a new plan to pull funding from National Public Radio, which they see as having a liberal bias.
If passed by the U.S. Senate, H.R. 1076, sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., would cut all funding for National Public Radio and would prohibit non-profit stations from using federal grants to purchase programming from NPR.
Sponsors say the cuts are part of a broader effort to reduce federal spending.
If federal funding is cut, Park City’s KPCW would lose 16 percent of its funding, which roughly translates to $135,000, said the station’s general manager Larry Warren.
"Sixteen percent is critical for us," he said in an earlier interview. "Right now we’re at a bare-bones budget at it is."
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KPCW gets 55 percent of its funding from corporate donations, 23 percent from individual donors and the remaining six percent from foundation and other government grants.
The station provides news, traffic and weather information for Summit and Wasatch Counties, because no commercial broadcaster would put up a signal in such a rural area, Warren said.
He, along with his fellow public radio managers, are "disgusted at this naked attack on NPR for purely political purposes."
"In past years, Congress mandated that we spend a certain percentage of our CPB grant to subscribe to national program providers such as NPR," Warren told The Park Record Friday. "Now the House is doing a 180 and passing a law that mandates just the opposite."
Warren said the bill was a "legislative vendetta" that resulted from the GOP’s "blind hatred of NPR," a news-gathering organization that has been "praised for being objective and professional."
"It is one of the few traditional media that is building an audience, and building a younger audience," Warren said, referring to the organization’s role in helping change the Army’s policy on awarding Purple Hearts to injured Afghan and Iraqi War veterans. "NPR admittedly has committed a few high profile mistakes in recent months, but as a news-gathering organization it is second to none in America, and will remain so whether the House majority agrees or not," said Warren.
Warren believes the Senate, like it did with H.R. 1, will not pass the bill.
"We are confident this legislation will be modified so that we, who are closest to our
individual budgets, will be able to make our own program purchase decisions," he said.
Warren and his fellow station managers have the White House on their side, as of last week. U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement saying it opposes H.R. 1076.
"CPB serves an important public purpose in supporting public radio, television, and related online and mobile services," the statement reads. "The vast majority of CPB’s funding for public radio goes to more than 700 stations across the country, many of them local stations serving communities that rely on them for access to news and public safety information. Undercutting funding for these radio stations, notably ones in rural areas where such outlets are already scarce, would result in communities losing valuable programming, and some stations could be forced to shut down altogether."
As of March 21, H.R. 1076 had been referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.