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North Country Public Radio Facing Huge Federal Budget Cuts (6/16/05)

In the past week, two sub-committees in the House of Representatives have recommended a 45% cut in funds to public broadcasting for the coming year, followed by zero funding within two years. The full committees are expected to vote on these recommendations as soon as this Wednesday, June 22, 2005.

“The proposed funding cuts would have the biggest negative impact on rural and small stations which rely on CPB and the Department of Commerce for a larger percentage of their program and facilities costs than do big city stations,” said Station Manager Ellen Rocco. “If the committee's intent is to reduce spending in a tight budget year, why is public broadcasting being hit with this draconian loss when the proposed funding cuts would reduce federal spending by only one 100th of one percent of a two trillion dollar budget, but would have a significant impact on the programs and services 30 million people across the U.S. depend on from NCPR and other public broadcasters? Please remember: the proposed cuts could eliminate about 45% of public broadcasting's funding in the first year, and all of its funding within two years. This is what makes the proposed cuts different than “normal” annual adjustments--up or down--in federal funding.”

For the entire public radio and television system, this means a $190 million funding cut in the coming year; for North Country Public Radio it means a loss of about $66,000 as of this fall, and in two years, a total loss of about $265,000 in annual program money if the recommendations are approved by Congress.

Federal dollars reach the station through two entities. First, CPB, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides qualified stations with an annual Community Service Grant, for program production and acquisition. NCPR uses its $265,000 CSG dollars to purchase programs like Morning Edition, The World, A Prairie Home Companion and Fresh Air, and to produce our regional news service.

Federal dollars also reach NCPR through the U.S. Department of Commerce which funds new and replacement equipment for public broadcasters. The Congressional recommendation would mean that crucial matching funds for NCPR’s transmission network would be gone. The station would have to raise about $400,000 in additional local funds for its facilities projects over the next two years…and many tens of thousands of dollars annually in subsequent years.

North Country Public Radio serves all or part of 15 counties across northern New York and portions of northwestern Vermont. Learn more about this issue.

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