The president's proposed fiscal year 2008 budget for "U.S. international broadcasting" calls for an overall increase of 3.8% from the last year's recommendation.
All told the budget calls for $668.2 million for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency that supervises all US government non-military propaganda.
Journalism Slash and Burn
At the same time, Bush's budget proposes steep cuts to federal funds for public broadcasting -- by nearly 25%. According to the Association of Public Television Stations, the Bush budget would slash up to $145 million from the $460 million proposed FY 2008 budget for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting.
The amount allocated to the BBG is a 3.8 percent increase from the agency's 2007 budget, with monies specifically "targeted to the war on terror." These tax dollars would flow to government mouthpieces including the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Alhurra, Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.
According to a BBG release: "The budget also fully funds initiatives … to critical Muslim audiences. These include the expansion of VOA television to Iran to a 12 hour stream, VOA Pashto radio programming to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region, television programs to Afghanistan and Pakistan and Alhurra Europe, the 24/7 service to Arabic speakers in Europe."
Taxpayer money well spent?
Measure the overwhelming public support for funding of public broadcasting against their growing dissatisfaction with the war effort. According to a 2005 Roper poll, 82% of Americans believe that taxpayer funding given to PBS is "money well spent." A recent AP-Ipsos poll counts 62% of Americans who now think that going to war in Iraq was a mistake.
Bush's proposed cuts to public broadcasting will put "Sesame Street" and other ad-free kids' shows under the knife. So too will be the watchdog journalism, critical voices and diverse fare that PBS, NPR and other public media offer. The cuts continue the partisan war on journalism once led by the ex-chair of public broadcasting, Ken Tomlinson. (Remember him?)
It's now up to Congress to set the budget right and restore funding to media that more accurately represents the public's priorities. You can help.