Culture, Politics

In the U.K. the BBC receives about $160 per person, giving it an annual budget of close to $4 billion. In America, the Corporation for PUblic Broadcasting (CPB) gets a measly $280 million (cut from $315 million). That comes to about $1 per person!!! By contrast, the U.S. Military wasted $100 million in unused plane tickets in the last five years alone!!! (The military has yet to account for over one trillion dollars in funds.)

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the composition of the CPB itself has become increasingly tied to campaign contributions (Republican or Democrat). It should come as no surprise that this has gotten even worse under Bush, where there seems to be a new ideological litmus test as well:

For example, President George W. Bush’s most recent CPB appointees, Gay Hart Gaines and Cheryl Halpern, have along with their families given more than $800,000 to the Republican Party and candidates since 1995. And both appointees have backgrounds that raise questions about their suitability to serve on the board. During her confirmation hearing last fall, Halpern indicated that she would welcome giving CPB members the authority to intervene in program content when they felt a program was biased. Gaines chaired Newt Gingrich’s (R-GA) political committee GOPAC. This is the same Gingrich who as House Speaker proposed cutting all federal assistance to public television.

Current board chairman Kenneth Tomlinson has given $7,700 to Republicans since 1995, and has been active in Republican politics. A friend of Karl Rove, he is quoted in The New Yorker article as saying,”It is absolutely critical for people on the right to feel they have the same ownership stake in public television as people on the left have.” Tomlinson has also objected to Moyers’ including commentary in his programs.

The end result is that PBS programming will look more and more like Fox News (as reported in a recent New Yorker article by Ken Auletta, and quoted in the Alternet story linked above):

The decision by CPB to fund two programs — one hosted by Tucker Carlson, who speaks for conservatives on CNNs Crossfire,” and one moderated by Paul Gigot, editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, at the same time that NOW with Bill Moyers,” which receives no CPB funds, is cut from an hour to 30 minutes, in what appears to be a Bush Administration litmus test for choosing members of the CPB.

Here is the transcript of an NPR interview with Aluetta.

Looks like Bill Moyers picked the right time to retire from Television.