The Future of PBS is in Your Hands

October 4, 2012 Wisconsin Public Television Leave a Comment

James-Steinbach-Director-of-TelevisionA message from James Steinbach, Director of Television

During the Oct. 3 Presidential Debate, Gov. Romney shared with the world that, if elected, he would defund the federal support of PBS. This was a critical moment – until yesterday the Governor had not articulated this on a national stage. His remarks have generated an extraordinary – and overwhelmingly negative – public response.  “Big Bird” was the fourth most trafficked Twitter subject following the debate after “Romney,” “Obama,” and “debate,” and at its peak Big Bird was the subject of 17,000 tweets per minute.

Research continues to show us that Americans value PBS programming and don’t want to see it cut. In fact, according to Hart Research, a bipartisan research firm, 69% of Americans oppose cutting of these funds. Earlier in 2012, a Harris Interactive poll confirmed that Americans consider PBS the most trusted public institution and the second most valuable use of public funds, behind only national defense, for the 9th consecutive year.

What are the facts?

  1. It’s important to note that the federal money appropriated to public broadcasting is just one one-hundredth of one percent of the total federal budget (.01%) – which equals just $1.35 per person per year.
  2. Eliminating that funding would have no measureable impact on closing the federal deficit, but will mean elimination of, or dramatic changes to, PBS programming for millions of Americans.
  3. Here in Wisconsin, WPT receives 10% of our total funding from the federal government. This cut would have a very real impact on our ability to deliver valuable educational and television programming to the people of Wisconsin.
  4. At a time when the role of federal government is being debated, public television and radio stations are stellar examples of exactly the kind of model Gov. Romney promotes. All public media stations in America are locally owned and community focused and they are experts in working efficiently to make limited resources produce results. In fact, for every $1.00 of federal funding invested, they raise an additional $6.00 on their own – a highly effective public-private partnership.
  5. In many rural, and economically challenged parts of our state, WPT provides parents and children with high quality, proven educational programming – free of charge. By eliminating this access, these essential services would be wiped out.

How can you help?

I urge you to talk to your family, neighbors and legislators about the ways public television has impacted your life.  I further urge you to do your own homework about this issue. We’ve provided some excellent resources for you. Join the conversation, post your comments and thoughts on Facebook, join 170 Million Americans for public broadcasting, follow the various Twitter conversations out there, and help us make sure people have the facts about funding and PBS.

If you’d like to contact your legislators, this link will take you to the 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting’s legislative tool, an easy-to-use engine that will allow you to send messages to all of your legislators with one single click.


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