PBS ‘could collapse’ after Trump cuts

Public radio and television broadcasters are nervous of their future after the administration proposed a drastic cutback with the defunding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The potential elimination of about $445 million in annual funding, which helps local TV and radio stations subscribe to NPR and Public Broadcasting Service programming, could be devastating for affiliates in smaller markets that already operate on a small budget.

Patricia Harrison, the corporation’s president, warned the Trump budget proposal, if enacted, could cause “the collapse of the public media system itself.”

In big cities major stations typically receive only a sliver of their annual budget from the federal government, thanks to listener contributions and corporate underwriters. Podcasts and other digital offshoots have also become significant sources of revenue.

But rural affiliates rely more heavily on congressional money, which can make up as much as 35 percent of their budgets. Mark Vogelzang, president of Maine Public, called the Trump proposal “the most serious threat to our federal funding” since he started in public broadcasting 37 years ago.

Photo The Corporation for Public Broadcasting supports about 1,500 stations that carry a range of educational, journalistic and arts-related programming. The corporation dates to the administration of President Lyndon Johnson. Its funding, while a minuscule part of the federal budget, has been under regular peril since the 1970s from conservative lawmakers, who often denounce what they view as the liberal bent of public media.

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