Strengthen Public Broadcasting CPB President Defends Its Record of Efficiency and Service

Article excerpt

IN our nation's capital, lawmakers are striving to do what the American people have clearly asked for: return more of the government to the governed. And this is what we've been doing in public broadcasting for more than 25 years. For example:

*The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which helped create and develop public television and radio, distributes nearly three-fourths of its money to local stations around the country.

*Public broadcasting treats federal funds as seed money - start-up capital - that it cultivates for use at the local level. This seed money, which comprises 14 percent of the industry's income, is the mainsail that attracts the winds of capital that public broadcasting needs to keep moving forward.

*Control of programming exists where it should: with individual stations.

These examples don't represent an effort to "get on trend," but rather illustrate that CPB continues to do what it was created to do: entrust local public broadcasters with federal funds to provide programming to their communities that is educational, noncommercial, and universally accessible.

CPB's primary objective is to ensure that every American is given the opportunity to choose public broadcasting. The Congress created CPB to represent the public interest. The language of the law isn't elegant - "to facilitate the development of public telecommunications" - but its purpose is clear.

As Americans squeeze more and more out of each dollar, they want to know that what they're buying is going to work, last, and at least retain some value. But their trust is harder to earn than their money.

Public broadcasting earns that trust by airing high-quality programming that's useful, educational, and exciting. In May, public television aired "The Way West," a documentary of our native American history. But public broadcasting must also earn that trust in the United States Congress, where the public money and public policy governing public broadcasting will be debated. …