Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Dichotomy of Reducing Federal Funding in Public Broadcasting

We're extremely confused on the latest efforts by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services and Education to reduce federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is an instance where Republicans, conservative activists primarily, are having trouble connecting what they say with what they do.

Conservatives continue pushing the boundaries of First Amendment protections by lamenting the proliferation of "anti-moral" and "value-less" programming on cable and the major television networks (despite the fact one of the networks - the largest of the reality TV culprits - is owned by a major Republican contributor). Whereas we remain cautious of the potential limits on free speech when such arguments are transformed into policy, we understand the reason for concern when our kids our bombarded by questionable programming. But, why threaten to undermine programming that not only caters to kids, but promotes child learning, family values and the basics of human decency and respect?

We understand that this latest move is merely a partisan response to the growing perception that adult-oriented news programming supported by CPB (such as NPR and McNeil-Lehrer) is heavily "liberal" in coverage. But, ideological arguments aside, even these shows are better than the commercialized versions on CNN, FOX and MSNBC when we're in desperate need of intellectual stimulation without "these words from our sponsors" and the increasingly narrow funnel of mainstream media.

We can't understand why Congress would choose to fight this at the expense of the kids.

So, wouldn't it be natural for conservatives to encourage greater support for family-friendly alternatives such as PBS, where you find Sesame Street, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Dragon Tales? Defund CPB as opposed to funding what? The Christian Broadcast Network? Or what: the lobbyists from Time Warner have managed to convince key House members that Cartoon Network is a better alternative?

Here you have a choice between the cesspool of mind-numbing cartoons, senselessly hyper-sexual music videos and reality shows, and the cleaner, responsibly formatted family-oriented alternative. Come on - Conservatives can't have it both ways.