House appropriators have proposed over $220 million in federal funding cuts for public broadcasting in the new fiscal year. This represents nearly a 45% reduction in public broadcasting funds and will significantly affect public television and radio stations around the country. MontanaPBS could see a significant reduction in federal funds for operations, as well as funds available to fully convert to digital and to expand our signal throughout Montana.

The proposed cuts include the rescission of $100 million of the appropriation already made in 2004 to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for fiscal year 2006; eliminating Ready to Learn ($23 million), which funds valuable children's programs like "Sesame Street" and "Arthur"; eliminating the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program ($21 million); and providing no new funding for digital infrastructure and the interconnection programs ($79 million).

The full House is expected to vote on this appropriations bill on Thursday, June 23.  Representatives David Obey (D-WI) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) intend to offer an amendment to the Labor-HHS appropriations bill when the full House considers it.  That amendment will seek to restore some or all of the 45 percent cuts to public broadcasting for FY 2006 that passed the full Committee last week.

Although the committee did provide more funding in 2008, the funding for 2006 still has not been restored.

The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Science, the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State and related agencies is scheduled to discuss the PTFP appropriation on Tuesday, June 21st. There is no date yet for the Senate appropriations sub committee meeting on the suggested CPB cuts

As these proposals make their way through sub-committees, full committees and House and Senate votes, it is possible that amounts and proposals will change. MontanaPBS staff and Friends of MontanaPBS board members are closely watching the procedures, and will keep our viewers and members up to date.

Viewers wishing to take action can call, fax or email our Representative Denny Rehberg and Senators Conrad Burns and Max Baucus to express support for public broadcasting in Montana.

For more information, call Lisa Titus, Development Director at 406-994-6221.