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The Fight for Public Broadcasting (links)

The latest attack:  “Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced a bill Friday to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which doles out federal funds to radio and television stations.  DeMint said it ‘should be an easy decision’ to halt taxpayer money for public broadcasting while the nation is ‘on the edge of bankruptcy.’  ‘Americans struggling to make ends meet shouldn’t be forced to fund public broadcasting when there are already thousands of choices for educational and entertainment programming on the television, radio and Web,’ DeMint said.” (via The Hill)

Arts organizations respond: “Non-commercial radio stations provide social and cultural value that their commercial counterparts do not. We value and appreciate commercial radio; in fact we wish there were more commercial stations committed to the traditional values of localism, competition and diversity. But we recognize that, ultimately, the overwhelming majority of today’s commercial radio stations exist to deliver specific demographic audiences to advertisers. When it makes business sense for these stations to discuss or promote a local symphony or band, theater performance or new gallery, they do it, and we appreciate it. But these are programming exceptions, not the rule.” (via Fractured Atlas Blog)

Artist respond: “Thousands of today’s artists rely on the exposure generated by NPR and non-commercial radio stations. Eliminating funding for public broadcasting would be tremendously damaging to working musicians, not to mention having a negative impact on local economies.”  (via CurrentTV)

But will it be enough? “To give in to that panic is to cooperate in your own demise. Which is exactly what the NPR board did by demanding that Schiller–a visionary leader who knew where NPR had to go in the digital age–resign immediately, and without a fight. This was a stupid and cowardly act, which will be justified as institutional realism, the price for one too many slip-ups. It is not realism. The decision to let Schiller go originates in a delusion, captured so well by Jon Stewart during the Juan Williams controversy when he told NPR: you brought a tote bag to a knife fight! The delusion is that you can keep doing that and somehow it will all work out in the end.  ‘Not only does this overreaction weaken NPR, it exposes them as an organization that is fundamentally weak,’ writes Joel Mearas in CJR. I agree. But I would add that this weakness is not simply a matter of missing backbone. It is related to the inability to think politically about what it takes to secure a space for public broadcasting in this country. It takes more than friends in Congress, and a commitment to an impartial news service. Imagination is also required. There has to be something in between arid non-partisanship and politicizing public radio. Schiller couldn’t locate it, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be done.” (via PressThink)

About Jean Cook

Jean Cook is a musician, producer and Director of Programs for Future of Music Coalition, a national nonprofit that works to improve the lives of musicians through research, education and advocacy on policy issues that directly impact the ability of musicians to make a living and reach audiences. She is a founder and director of Anti-Social Music, a New York-based new music collective, and currently records and tours with Ida/Elizabeth Mitchell, Jon Langford, and Beauty Pill. For FMC, she currently project directs initiatives to fix jazz and classical music metadata, analyze what is actually played on jazz radio (and how to improve data collection), and understand how copyright impacts indigenous artists in places like Ethiopia, Tajikistan and Australia.

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