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GOP budget would cut funding for public broadcasting

The Republican House majority put out a shocker of a budget Thursday that would slash spending by $32 billion in the next seven months. Among the glaringly ideological Republican targets are environmental protection programs and public broadcasting. The “war on Big Bird,” as some fans of PBS have called it, has a strong backer in Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn, who this session has introduced two bills to zero out funds for public TV and radio.

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Lamborn’s HR 68 would amend the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit federal funding for public broadcasting after fiscal year 2013. His H.R. 69 separately targets National Public Radio funding.

Lamborn introduced a bill to cut NPR funding last year but it was shot down by the Democratic-controlled House.

After Fox News launched a campaign to “defund” NPR in the fall, Lamborn appeared on the network several times and ratcheted up his rhetoric around the bill.

“You may have heard about the recent firing of NPR News Analyst Juan Williams and the $1.8 million donation by liberal activist George Soros to hire 100 NPR reporters,” Lamborn wrote to supporters in an October release. “These two actions make it clear that public broadcasting is a friend and protector of liberal issues and political correctness, at the expense of free speech and balanced news reporting.”

At a time when the news media industry outside of cable TV is struggling and when aggressive partisan punditry dominates that sector, cuts to PBS seem especially short-sighted, say some industry observers.

Media reform nonprofit Free Press put out a call in wake of the news of the proposals.

Political extremists in Congress have introduced six — yes, six — bills that would cut all funding for NPR, PBS and other public media. As early as next week, they could vote to pull the plug on the news, arts and educational programming on which more than a hundred million Americans rely…

For some communities, local NPR and PBS stations are the only source of serious reporting. They also employ thousands of journalists — at a time when commercial newsrooms are shedding jobs.

In addition to Lamborn’s bills, U.S. lawmakers have introduced HR 235, the “Cut Unsustainable and Top-Heavy Spending Act,” by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas); HR 408, “Spending Reduction Act,” by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio); S 178, the Senate version of the “Spending Reduction Act,” sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.); and S. 162, the “Cut Federal Spending Act,” by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

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