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Will Corporation for Public Broadcasting Be Defunded? WBUR GM Responds

A message from WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz:

Yesterday President Donald Trump submitted a budget to Congress that defunds the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Here at WBUR, my focus is naturally on public radio but I'm concerned for all of public media. At stake is:

  • $90 million for public radio and $355 million for public television
  • $.28 per citizen per year for public radio
  • CPB funding is .01% of the federal budget

It is, in short, a small investment with big impact. More than 41 million Americans listen to public radio each week, including more than 500,000 WBUR listeners here in Boston.

Public radio was born of a belief 50 years ago that every citizen deserves access to independent, public service, non-commercial, non-profit news and programming that enriches the American experience. From the largest cities to the smallest towns, public radio and television started with public funds — now supported additionally with private philanthropy — and embraced the highest standards of quality broadcasting.

Will the CPB be defunded? It is hard to predict, and history can be only a partial guide. This is not the first effort to eliminate funding for public media and each time those efforts have failed. What we know for certain is that partisan rancor and Congressional gridlock are more intense today than at any time since the CPB was created. The effort to defund public media is real. It's not driven by any meaningful effort to balance the budget. The amount of money at stake is simply too small to make a difference in federal spending, but it is large enough to strike a blow to universal access to non-partisan, fact-based journalism.

While WBUR would be significantly impacted by the elimination of CPB funds, we will survive with your help. But hundreds of smaller stations across the country will be forced to drastically reduce their staffs or even close their doors. This would be a tragedy for journalism in America and a tremendous loss for countless communities that rely on NPR.

As one of the largest public radio stations in the country, and one that provides more hours of national NPR programming than any other station, WBUR is committed to universal access to our programs across the country. We need your help in assuring that Boston and the nation continue to be served by WBUR.

So what can you do? First, go to Protect My Public Media and sign our petition to Congress.  Your voice will be joined by millions of others across the country in support of public radio and television. Second, tell your friends and family that public radio may lose its funding if they don't speak up in support of it across America. And finally, monitor WBUR and WBUR.org, where we will keep you updated on efforts to defund the CPB.

From its inception, public radio has been a collaboration between NPR, public radio stations and our listeners. That partnership is more important now than ever before.

I'll keep you updated in the coming weeks. Together we can fight this effort to defund public radio in America.

You can email feedback to gm@wbur.org.

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