As Republican activist Cheryl Halpern takes the helm of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Republicans in Congress call for CPB funding cuts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, public broadcasting's defenders look ahead once again to a fight to "save PBS."
But the broader issues remain overlooked: Is public broadcasting delivering on its promise of offering a true alternative to commercial broadcasting? Does the CPB really, as its mission statement proclaims, "encourage the development of programming that involves creative risks and that addresses the needs of unserved and underserved audiences, particularly children and minorities"?
In the October issue of Extra!, FAIR declares that the honest answer to these questions is no. It's time to stop trying to save the CPB from budget cuts and corrupt leadership; we need to cut the purse strings and develop new, independent funding mechanisms for public broadcasting.
The CPB has become a tool used by congressional conservatives to restrict programming within narrow political limits. With each successive attack from the right, public broadcasting becomes weakened, as programmers become more skittish and public TV's habit of survival through capitulation becomes more ingrained.
"While a desire to protect the CPB from right-wing attackers is understandable, it's ultimately doomed to failure," said Steve Rendall, co-author with Peter Hart of FAIR's analysis, Time to Unplug the CPB. "We need to stop fighting to save the CPB and start fighting to save the principle of public broadcasting itself."
Read the full analysis here: Time to Unplug the CPB