The selection of Patricia Harrison as the new president/CEO of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting on June 23 comes as the fight over CPB's funding hit the House floor.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (The Hollywood Reporter) -- The selection of Patricia Harrison as the new president/CEO of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting on June 23 comes as the fight over CPB's funding hit the House floor.
The previous week the House Appropriations Committee slashed direct funding for CPB by 25%, slicing $100 million out of its $400 million budget. The cuts actually are deeper, however, as the committee also cut $45 million for PBS' conversion to digital TV and $40 million budgeted to replace PBS's aging satellite delivery system.
Some of the funding was restored June 23 as the House lawmakers voted to rescind the $100 million in cuts.
Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) argued that the funds should be returned, saying PBS and NPR provided programming that was untainted by commercial considerations.
"There's no way all Americans are going to agree all the time," he said. "But what we can do is respect honesty and quality and First Amendment rights. It's these qualities that are exercised in an uplifting, nondivisive way that public broadcasting symbolizes."
Leach reminded the House that public broadcasting was never meant to be a government propaganda arm.
"Public broadcasting does not imply a reflection of the government," he said. "It's not government broadcasting; it's public broadcasting."
Opponents of the amendment, all of them Republicans, used the corporation's own success as a reason to cut the program.
"Big Bird is a billionaire," said Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.), referring to the popular longtime "Sesame Street" character.
House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) said the amendment would take money away from programs in other departments like job training and health care.
Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), the committee's senior Democrat, argued that the cuts would only reduce a few administrative pilot programs.
Meanwhile, selection of Harrison, a former Republican Party co-chairman, was decried by some lawmakers.
In a letter to Tomlinson, Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and others expressed dismay at the expected appointment of Harrison.
"We find it astonishing that Ms. Harrison, given her former prominence as a partisan political figure, would even be considered as a candidate for a job that demands that the occupant be nonpolitical," the senators wrote.
The Senate has yet to consider the legislation. Public broadcasting supporters hope to fare better there as the Senate has been more protective of CPB's funding.